The Leptodactylus latrans species group currently comprises eight medium- to large-sized frog species with a convoluted taxonomic history, particularly related to the specific limits of the L. latrans complex, and the species pair Leptodactylus chaquensis–Leptodactylus macrosternum. Their homogeneous external morphology and continental geographic distribution in South America have posed severe limitations to a comprehensive review, such that taxonomic consensus and species limits remain uncertain. This is further worsened by the presence of chromatic polymorphism among coexisting species that can hardly be distinguished by external morphology. Based on a large-scale geographic sampling including multilocus DNA analyses, and acoustic and morphological data, we provide a comprehensive evaluation of the taxonomic status and species limits of the L. latrans group, focusing on the resolution of the L. latranscomplex and the species pair L. chaquensis–L. macrosternum. We gathered 728 mitochondrial sequences from 429 localities, encompassing the entire geographic distribution of the group. Both generalized mixed Yule coalescent and automatic barcode gap discovery species delimitation methods recovered four major mitochondrial evolutionary lineages within the L. latrans complex, also supported by distribution patterns, multilocus molecular, morphological and/or bioacoustic data. One lineage is linked to nominal L. latrans,one revalidated as Leptodactylus luctator, and the other two are formally named and described. Another lineage encompasses all specimens previously assigned to the species pair L. chaquensis–L. macrosternum, clustered as a single evolutionary entity and is now regarded as L. macrosternum. We provide a revised diagnosis for these species based on acoustic data, morphological/chromatic variation, and phylogenetic relationships of all species currently included in the L. latrans group. Our findings reinforce the view that Neotropical diversity is highly underestimated and stress that appropriate geographic sampling in an integrative framework is crucial for the establishment of specific limits among broadly distributed and morphologically cryptic Neotropical frogs.
de Magalhães, F., Lyra, M l., de Carvalho T.R.., Baldo, D, Brusquetti, F., Burella, P, Colli, G. C., Gehara, M.C., Giaretta, A. C., Haddad, C. F. B., Langone, J., López, J.A., Napoli, M. F., Santana, D. J., de Sá, R. O., and Garda, A. G. 2020. Taxonomic review of South American butter frogs: phylogeny, biogeographic patterns, and species delimitation in the Leptodactylus latrans species group (Anura: Leptodactylidae). Herpetological Monographs 34, 131–177. https://doi.org/10.1655/0733-1347-31.4.131