Scinax pyroinguinis: new frog species for science found in BAM’s forests


In the fascinating world of herpetology, one species that deserves our attention is the frog Scinax pyroinguinis, also called “groins of fire frog”. These amphibious creatures have a unique beauty and an interesting history to explore.

According to the official study published in Evolutionary Systems, Scinax tree frogs are among the most diverse clades of neotropical amphibians. Of the Scinax species known from Peru, the specimen we will discuss in this article is a completely new species, a conclusion reached after morphological and genetic analysis.


In this article, we’ll take you through a series of questions that spark curiosity and promote informed discussion about the frog Scinax pyroinguinis, all answered by our BAM’s Science Director, Walter H. Wust.

This interview was conducted on August 16, 2023.


How was the process of discovering this new frog species in the forests protected by BAM?

The discovery of the new frog species was made as part of the biodiversity assessment expeditions carried out by Bosques Amazónicos (BAM) in partnership with CORBIDI and other scientific organizations associated with its science plan. This area of forest protected by BAM is part of its conservation project REDD+The Last Habitat. Twice a year, multidisciplinary teams of researchers enter different locations in BAM’s protected forests to conduct comprehensive inventories of the flora and fauna and learn about the structure of the natural community conserved in these ecosystems.

The herpetology team, responsible for the discovery, works mostly at night, scouring swamps, marshes and riparian forests in search of amphibians and reptiles to add to the list we already have for the Ucayali region. The discovery was made at 160 meters above sea level from two male specimens captured along watercourses and adjacent vegetation in the locality of Quebrada Blanca, during the evaluation carried out between October and November 2022.

What is the importance of discovering a new species for science?

This is a source of great satisfaction and pride, because it shows us that the scientific work is rigorous and effective, but also because it is a clear sign that the forests we conserve are healthy and in balance. BAM’s property in Ucayali has become a sort of vital refuge for wildlife in the vicinity of one of the fastest growing cities in the country (Pucallpa).

How is the conservation status of BAM’s forests crucial for this new species  “groins of fire frog” to inhabit?

The presence of this frog and the other species of amphibians and reptiles in the forests that BAM protects is an unequivocal indicator of the good health of the ecosystem. The “groins of fire frog” gets its name from the brightly colored spots that decorate the inside of its legs, but at the same time, it acts as a sort of reminder that forest fires are devastating much of the remaining forest in Ucayali. It is a wake-up call to Peruvians, a sign that as we destroy the forest we may even lose species that we have not even discovered yet.

What are the unique characteristics that differentiate the frog Scinax pyroinguinis from other frog species?

The fire groin frog differs from other species of the genus Scinax (composed of about 129 species, of which 10 have been recorded in Peru) by having a rounded head seen from a dorsal angle, and by lacking a proboscis or protuberance at the tip of the nose. One of its distinctive characteristics is the presence of small bright orange spots on the inner thighs. These are possibly used as communication mechanisms with members of their species or as a sign of distraction from predator attacks. Although only two specimens were captured, the genetic (DNA) and morphological evidence allowed the researchers to support that Scinax piroinguinis is a new species for science.

How does the presence of the Scinax pyroinguinis frog impact its environment? Are there natural predators that depend on them?

Every living being, every species, no matter how small, plays a vital role in the ecosystem. In the same way that threads act in a warp, species articulate to form very complex chains that we often barely understand. Frogs are vital in controlling insect populations by feeding on mosquito larvae and other pests. They are also key to other species by serving as food for a large number of predators, such as snakes, mammals and even bats. The disappearance of this frog will undoubtedly have unforeseeable consequences on the ecosystem, consequences that we will perhaps see long afterwards. Hopefully, we will not have to see it.

Is the survival of the “groins of fire frog” in danger? What are the threats it faces?

The “goins of fire frog” has been recorded only in a small portion of well-conserved forest within the properties protected by BAM. This alone is a critical situation for the species, given that much of the forests in the region have disappeared due to land use change (logging, deforestation for migratory agriculture and cattle ranching) in recent decades.

Increasing forest fires, a misguided and illegal but culturally widespread way of controlling weed growth in cattle pastures, threatens the habitat of this frog and dozens of other wildlife species.

Would you like to comment or mention any curious facts or additional information about this new frog species and the BAM forests?

It is known that the Ucayali River is a natural barrier for the distribution of bird species, for example. It is necessary to continue research to find out if it is also a barrier for amphibians. We do not know if there are any individuals of this frog on the eastern bank of the Ucayali and thus expand its range.

The amount and effort of sampling deployed by researchers in the study area (108 man-hours of sampling between 2021 and 2022) indicates that the “goins of fire frog” is a rare species in the area. Add this to the growing threat of wildfires, set by farmers in the area to expand their grazing areas and create new agricultural areas, and the outlook for this and other species is worrisome.

BAM’s commitment to continue protecting these forests remains unwavering as we work to develop projects that add value to the standing forest, ensure its long-term survival and improve the quality of life of local Amazonian populations.

Our impact

Our REDD+ conservation project REDD+ The Last Habitat located in Campo Verde, Ucayali, protects more than 20,000 hectares of forest and its extraordinary biodiversity.

Join the fight against climate change and be part of the Bosques Amazónicos community by clicking here.

Check out Walter H. Wust’s work as a photographer and naturalist at the following link: Instagram.

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