WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will protect the coquí llanero, a tiny frog that lives in a single wetland in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. The USFWS granted the frog endangered status under the Endangered Species Act, and designated 615 acres of critical habitat to aid the species’ recovery.
The agency’s final decision was made “in accordance with a landmark settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity requiring the agency to expedite protection decisions for 757 species,” the CBD said in a press release.
The smallest of 17 coquí species in Puerto Rico, the frog faces threats from development, including a go-kart racetrack and a landfill, and the species’ own low reproductive capacity and specialized ecological requirements, the agency said. The coquí only lays a clutch of one to five eggs on the bulltongue arrowhead plant, the regulation noted.
The frog was “first collected” in 2005 on property owned by the U.S. Navy and the Caribbean Primate Research Center in Toa Baja, and described as a new species in 2007. The primate center requested the frog’s protection in 2007 and 2009, before the USFWS proposed the frog for listing in 2011, according to the regulation.
The coquí llanero’s communication call, a series of short, high-pitched notes lasting from 4 to 21 seconds, has the highest frequency among all Puerto Rican coquí frogs, the regulation noted. A different species, the “common coquí, whose name comes from the male frog’s iconic singing-call ‘ko-kee,’ is a cultural symbol of Puerto Rico,” according to the CBD’s statement.
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