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Abstract
Pristimantis is the most diverse genus of tetrapods comprising 532 described species. It contains a large number of morphologically cryptic species that are being discovered with the assistance of genetic evidence. We use molecular, morphological, bioacoustic, and environmental data to assess the phylogenetic relationships and determine the species within an Andean clade of Pristimantis, which is distributed from central Ecuador to northern Peru. We assign to this clade the name Huicundomantis and propose it as a subgenus. Our results show that Huicundomantis is composed of two large clades which we name as the P. phoxocephalus species group and the P. cryptomelas species group. Huicundomantis is composed of 28 species of which 12 have been described and 16 are new. We describe 11 of these undescribed species. The most effective characters to discriminate among species are DNA sequences, qualitative morphology, and advertisement calls. Morphometric and environmental characters are not very useful to define species limits. We clarify the identity of P. riveti and show that populations from southern Ecuador traditionally ascribed to P. riveti are a new species, P. lutzaesp. nov. We also show that P. prometeii is a junior synonym of P. hampatusami. The current diversity and geographic distribution of Huicundomantis are consistent with a model of allopatric speciation. All species have a restricted distribution range (less than 4330 km2) and are assigned to the Red List categories Data Deficient or threatened with extinction. We provide new reasons to increase conservation efforts for these species and their habitat. Taking our results into account, Pristimantis species richness in Ecuador increases from 211 to 221 species, and the number of species endemic to Ecuador from 119 to 129.
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