Dendrobatidae Cope, 1865 (1850)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Superfamily: Dendrobatoidea > Family: Dendrobatidae
205 species

Phyllobatae Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 32. Type genus: Phyllobates Bibron in de la Sagra, 1840. See comment.

Eubaphidae Bonaparte, 1850, Conspect. Syst. Herpetol. Amph.: 1 p. Type genus: Eubaphus Bonaparte, 1831.

EubaphinaBonaparte, 1850, Conspect. Syst. Herpetol. Amph.: 1 p.

Hylaplesidae Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 345. Type genus: Hylaplesia Boie, 1827 (= Hysaplesia Boie, 1826).

Dendrobatidae Cope, 1865, Nat. Hist. Rev., N.S., 5: 100. Type genus: Dendrobates Wagler, 1830. Placed on the Official List of Family-Group Names in Zoology and given precedence over Phyllobatae Fitzinger, 1843, whenever the two names are considered synonyms by Anonymous, 2009, Bull. Zool. Nomencl., 66: 103–105.

Colostethidae Cope, 1867, J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Ser. 2, 6: 191. Type genus: Colostethus Cope, 1866.

HylaplesiinaGünther, 1868, Zool. Rec., 4: 148.

CalostethinaMivart, 1869, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1869: 293. Incorrect subsequent spelling and reranking of Colostethidae Cope, 1867, as a subfamily.

CalostethidaeCope, 1875, Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 1: 7. Incorrect subsequent spelling.

HylaplesiidaeCope, 1875, Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 1: 8.

HylaplesiidaKnauer, 1878, Naturgesch. Lurche: 112.

DendrobatinaeGadow, 1901, Amphibia and Reptiles: 139, 237; Laurent, 1942, Bull. Mus. R. Hist. Nat. Belg., 18: 1–20; Grant, Frost, Caldwell, Gagliardo, Haddad, Kok, Means, Noonan, Schargel, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 299: 169.

PhyllobatidaeParker, 1933, Trop. Agric., Trinidad, 10: 12; Laurent, 1980 "1979", Bull. Soc. Zool. France, 104: 418; Laurent, 1986, in Grassé and Delsol (eds.), Traite de Zool., 14: 656.

PhyllobatinaeArdila-Robayo, 1979, Caldasia, 12: 385.

DendrobatoidaeDubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 309. Epifamily.

Hyloxalinae Grant, Frost, Caldwell, Gagliardo, Haddad, Kok, Means, Noonan, Schargel, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 299: 168. Type genus: Hyloxalus Jimenez de la Espada, 1871 "1870". 

Colostethinae — Grant, Frost, Caldwell, Gagliardo, Haddad, Kok, Means, Noonan, Schargel, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 299: 163.  

DendrobatiniGrant, Rada, Anganoy-Criollo, Batista, Dias, Jeckel, Machado, and Rueda-Almonacid, 2017, S. Am. J. Herpetol., 12 (Special Issue): 27. 

English Names

Poison Frogs (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 48; Halliday and Adler, 2002, New Encyclop. Rept. Amph.: 85).


Nicaragua to the Amazon Basin of Bolivia and to the Guianas and southeastern Brazil.


Laurent, 1980 "1979", Bull. Soc. Zool. France, 104: 418, and subsequently Dubois, 1982, Bull. Zool. Nomencl., 39: 267–278, noted that the family-group name Phyllobatae Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 32, has priority over Dendrobatidae. Dubois petitioned the Commission of Zoological Nomenclature to give Dendrobatidae Cope, 1865, nomenclatural precedence over Phyllobatidae, an application which was never voted upon. See Holthius, 1983, Bull. Zool. Nomencl., 40: 197–198, for a dissent. Griffiths, 1959, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 132: 457–487, considered Dendrobatidae to be a subfamily of Ranidae, derived from Petropedetinae (Ranidae). Noble, 1922, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 46: 1–87, and Lynch, 1971, Misc. Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kansas, 53: 1–238, provided evidence that Dendrobatidae was derived from or closely related to Hylodinae. Grant, Humphrey, and Myers, 1997, Am. Mus. Novit., 3212: 1–40, discussed the evidence for hylodine and ranoid placement, marginally favoring a ranoid relationship. Savage, 1982, Ann. Missouri Bot. Garden, 69: 464–547, discussed some aspects of biogeography, and Rivero, 1982, in Salinas (ed.), Zool. Neotropical, 1: 91–123, discussed briefly possible origin and relationships in South America. Myers, Paolillo-O., and Daly, 1991, Am. Mus. Novit., 3002: 1–33, discussed a possible phylogeny of Dendrobatidae. Ford, 1993, Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 5: 219–231, and Ford and Cannatella, 1993, Herpetol. Monogr., 7: 94–117, on the basis of morphological evidence, considered Dendrobatidae to be imbedded within the ranoid clade, but on the basis of DNA sequences, Hillis, Ammerman, Dixon, and de Sá, 1993, Herpetol. Monogr., 7: 118–131, considered Dendrobatidae to cluster with the hyloidean families as did Darst and Cannatella, 2004, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 31: 462–475, who considered Dendrobatidae to be nested within Hylinae, at least based on their taxon sampling. Burton, 1998, Am. Mus. Novit., 3229: 1–13, presented morphological evidence for an association with Hylodinae (a subfamily of Leptodactylidae at that time). Haas, 2003, Cladistics, 19: 23–89, provided considerable evidence from larval morphology that Dendrobatidae is the sister taxon of Hylodes (now in Hylodidae). Vences, Kosuch, Lötters, Widmer, Jungfer, Köhler, and Veith, 2000, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 15: 34–40, reported on the molecular phylogenetics of the group: monophyly of Phyllobates, paraphyly of Dendrobates (with respect to Minyobates), Ameerega (as Epipedobates) (with respect to Phobobates), and Colostethus (with respect to Allobates). Clough and Summers, 2000, Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 70: 515–540, also reported on molecular systematics of the group, suggesting that Dendrobates is paraphyletic with respect to Minyobates, and that Allobates is the sister taxon of the remaining toxic species. Schulte, 1999, Pfeilgiftfrösche, discused the species of Peru; his arrangement was discussed and criticized by Lötters and Vences, 2001 "2000", Salamandra, 36: 247–260. Walls, 1994, Jewels of the Rainforest, presents brief characterizations and photographs for all of the poison frog species (DendrobatesMinyobatesEpipedobatesAllobates, and Phyllobates) known at that time. Vences, Kosuch, Boistel, Haddad, La Marca, and Lötters, 2003, Organisms Divers. Evol., 3: 215–226, reported on molecular phylogenetics of the group and suggested a specific pattern of paraphyly of Colostethus with respect to Ameerega (as Epipedobates), Allobates, Nephelobates, Mannophryne, Cryptophyllobates, and a clade composed of Dendrobates and PhyllobatesSavage, 2002, Amph. Rept. Costa Rica: 376–391, provided keys and accounts for the species of Costa Rica. Santos, Coloma, and Cannatella, 2003, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 100: 12792–12797, provided a molecular phylogeny. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297, considered Thoropidae to be the sister taxon of Dendrobatidae. Grant, Frost, Caldwell, Gagliardo, Haddad, Kok, Means, Noonan, Schargel, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 299, decisively placed Dendrobatidae (sensu lato) as the sister taxon of Hylodidae and partitioned former Dendrobatidae into two families, Aromobatidae and Dendrobatidae, only the latter bearing poisonous skin alkaloids, and provided a new arrangement of monophyletic subfamilies and genera. Prior to the revision of Grant et al. (2006), Kaplan, 1997, J. Herpetol., 31: 369–375, discussed phylogenetics of the group and presented evidence for the paraphyly of ColostethusErdtmann and Amézquita, 2009, Ethology, 115: 801–811, discussed evolution of advertisement call traits. Santos, Coloma, Summers, Caldwell, Ree, and Cannatella, 2009, PLoS Biol., 7(3: e1000056): 1–14, discussed phylogenetics and biogeography, and disputed the recognition of Aromobatidae, although they discovered the same phylogenetic structure upon which this partition was based. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543-583, in their study of Genbank sequences, also confirmed the sister taxon status of Aromobatidae and Dendrobatidae, but adopted the Santos et al., 2009, taxonomy. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39–55, discussed briefly the taxonomic history of the group. Cole, Townsend, Reynolds, MacCulloch, and Lathrop, 2013, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, 125: 317–578, provided identification keys and accounts for the species in Guyana. Sánchez, 2013, Zootaxa, 3637: 569–591, reported on comparative larval morphology. Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Köhler, 2011, Amph. Cent. Am.: 128–139, compared the dendrobatid genera and species of Central America and provided an identification key, maps, and photographs. Silva, 2011, Periód. Tchê Química, Port Alegre, 8(15): 13–20, provided a brief phylogenetic study based on external morphology of exemplars of some of the genera. Grant, Rada, Anganoy-Criollo, Batista, Dias, Jeckel, Machado, and Rueda-Almonacid, 2017, S. Am. J. Herpetol., 12 (Special Issue): 1–90, provided a detailed phylogenetic analysis and revisonary notes on the systematics of the group. Guillory, Muell, Summers, and Brown, 2019, Diversity, 11 (126): 1–14, reported on the phylogenetics and evolutionary history of the family. 

Contained taxa (205 sp.):

External links:

Please note: these links will take you to external websites not affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History. We are not responsible for their content.