There are many organisms that play a large role in the life of the Panamanian Golden Frog.  Between being a predator to organisms, being prey of organisms, and partaking in symbiotic relationships with yet more organisms, the Panamanian Golden Frog finds itself in the company of other creatures every minute of every day. 

The Panamanian Golden Frog has a predatory relationship to many small insects and other invertebrates in the tropical forests of Panama.  It prefers to snack on these small invertebrates as its main source of nutrition.  However, as previously mentioned, most of the Panamanian Golden Frog population is now held in captivity meaning its main meals consist of crickets and fruit flies.  Quite boring for the frogs!

On the opposing side of the spectrum, the Panamanian Golden Frog's main threat of existence is the chytrid fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.  This chytrid fungus is effective at killing the Panamanian Golden Frog because of the design of the frog's respiratory system.  Most frogs, including Atelopus zeteki, breathe through their skin as well as their oral cavity.  Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a fungus that inhabits the dermal layer of the frog and effectively cuts off all gas exchange that takes place in the frog's skin; a process known as chytridiomycosis.  Once the fungus is fully established in the skin of the frog, the frog is essentially suffocated because it is unable to get enough oxygen through its oral cavity.  Hence, the current situation of critical endangerment for the Panamanian Golden Frog and many other frogs across the world such as Rana catesbeiana, also known as the American Bullfrog.  Below is a map of how the chytrid fungus is spreading across Panama.

Another relationship that the Panamanian Golden Frog participates in and is not fully understood is their predicted mutualistic relationship with bacteria that secrete saxitoxins.  Because the structure of the toxin produced by Atelopus zeteki is extremely unique among amphibians, scientists believe the frogs must contain bacteria that help in the secretion of their saxitoxin-analog, zetekitoxin AB.  There is still much more research to be conducted in this area of the frog's life.  Shown to the right is the basic structure of a saxitoxin. 

One relationship that Atelopus zeteki participates in, willing or not, and is often overlooked when thinking of interactions is the organism's relationship with humans.  We must not forget that, we too, are organisms that affect the lives of countless other organisms around the world, Panamanian Golden Frogs being no exception.  This relationship could be classified as a mutualistic relationship in a sense due to the fact that humans have helped the frogs to remain in existence by bringing them into captivity and, in turn, we get to gain knowledge about these frogs and appreciate a higher degree of organismal diversity; an aspect of this world that allows for no second chances.
Courtesy of Brian Gratwicke

Note:  Unless labeled, all images used under public permission.

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