New species of tree frog in Panama named after Greta Thunberg

A tiny tree frog discovered on Panama’s Mount Chucantí, an area of Panama that has lost 30% of its forest cover in the past decade, has been named after activist Greta Thunberg.

 Greta Thunberg’s rainfrogs (Pristimantis gretathunbergae) are tiny (about 3 to 4 centimeters or 1.1 to 1.5 inches long) and spend much of their time tucked away in bromeliads. Scientists made the discovery on a 2012  expedition to Panama’s Mount Chucantí, home to many unique and endemic species.

Mount Chucantí is the tallest peak in the Majé mountain range in eastern Panama. 

Since high-elevation species are sensitive to fine-scale changes in the environment, they are vulnerable to extinction. With this in mind and the historical knowledge of how fragile frog populations can be, the Panamanian nonprofit Adopt a Rainforest Association created a privately patrolled nature preserve on the mountain.

Beyond climate change, the tree frog faces habitat loss and the risk of exposure to the deadly chytrid fungus, a notorious tropical amphibian killer. 

Panamanian nonprofit Adopt a Rainforest Association

Working towards protecting the area and the animals that live there is the Panamanian nonprofit Adopt a Rainforest Association (ADOPTA) with a now 600 hectare private reserve on Cerro Chucantí.  An area in which, at least "56 new-to-science species have been found" according to Berguido founder of ADOPT.

Now, private game rangers patrol the Cerro Chucantí Private Reserve to protect the forest from ranchers, squatters, illegal loggers, and poachers. But, due to funding shortages made worse by COVID-19, only two rangers are currently working, which Berguido said is “not nearly enough.” ADOPTA sometimes manages to cover the expenses of local law enforcement to join forest patrols, but this is expensive.

“This work is very gratifying,” he added, “but can be quite frustrating when we don’t receive enough support … We feel there are only a few of us against a giant foe.”


Mongabay News 


Mebert, K., González-Pinzón, M., Miranda, M., Griffith, E., Vesely, M., Schmid, P. L., & Batista, A. (2022). A new rainfrog of the genus Pristimantis (Anura, Brachycephaloidea) from central and eastern Panama. ZooKeys, 1081, 1-34. doi:10.3897/zookeys.1081.63009