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Neobatrachus albipes
White-footed Frog
family: Myobatrachidae
subfamily: Limnodynastinae

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

   

Description
Neobatrachus albipes is a moderate size burrowing frog. The total male body length is approximatly 33.2 to 45.4 mm and females are approximately 35.3 mm snout-vent length. These frogs have sloped heads that are shorter than wide. From the dorsal view the snout is rounded and from the profile the snout is almost flat, appearing almost square. The slightly laterally nostrils are pointed upward and the large eyes are distinct. The tympanum is taller than it is wide and, although, covered with skin is obvious. Prominent paratoid glands can be found extending medially from behind the tympanum to the middle of the back. This species has moderate limbs. Relative finger lengths are 3 > 1 > 2 > 4 and fingers are unwebbed, slender, and short. Each finger has an obvious subarticular tubercle at the first joint. Tubercles can also be found between the first and second fingers and second and third fingers. In males, nuptial pads can be found starting at the base of the first two fingers and extending to the distal joints. Relatively toe lengths are 4 > 3 > 5 > 2 > 1 and toes are Slender and webbed. Toe webbing covers first, second, and third toes fully, but only extends to the second joint on toes four and five (Roberts et al. 1991)

With the exception of N. pelobatoides, N. albipes can be diagnosed by its unpigmented metatarsal tubercle. Neobatrachus albipes can be differentiated from N. pelobatoides by the white coloration on the top of the foot of N. albipes and N. albipes’ male call having fewer pulse numbers and higher pulse rates and dominant frequencies than N. pelobatoides (Roberts et al. 1991).

In life, the N. albipes appears to be able to change color to blend in with its background. In dark backgrounds, the dorsum is brown with markings that are dark with undefined edges. A broad lighter “V” shape can be found on the skin above and between the eyes. In light backgrounds, the dorsum of N. albipes is pale gray to light yellow-green; this is especially true around the flanks and back half of the body. In both backgrounds, the upper surface of the feet and toes are white, giving the species its common name. When preserved, the dorsal surface of the frog appears as when the live frog is on a dark background. The ventral surface, legs, upper arms and anterior of the forearms, and inner margin of the feet of the frog are creamy-white. Neobatrachus albipes has dark brown plantar and palmer areas. The skin on the anterior and lateral margins of the submandibular area is dark grey-brown. The upper surface of the foot and toes are white and the skin at the ankle is translucent showing dark brown muscle underneath (Roberts et al. 1991).

Some frogs also have a mid-dorsal strip that extends from a point level with the tympanum to the cloaca. The paratoid glands can vary in their distinctiveness and some specimens are a lighter brown-yellow when preserved. Individuals also have variation in the distinctiveness of the light bar between their eyes and some males have nuptial pads that extend to their third finger (Roberts et al. 1991).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Australia

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
This frog is found in the southern arid and semi-arid zone of southwest Western Australia, from Narembeen and the Stirling Range eastward to Cape Arid. The estimated elevation range of N. albipes is from near sea level to approximately 800 meters above mean sea level (Hero and Roberts 2004).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Neobatrachus albipes are explosive breeders characterized by sudden breeding activity for one or two nights after heavy rains in temporary pools formed during the seasonal rains. These most intense precipitation periods are typically in autumn (beginning in May) and winter, and ponding may persist through October. This rainy season marks the peak of species activity for N. albipes (Roberts et al. 1991).

Breeding age males produce mating vocalizations in the spring and summer season from hidden positions in crevices or beneath woody scrub vegetation near breeding waters, which are typically 20 to 50 centimeters in depth. Vocalizations most often consist of a series of 36 to 40 brief pulses of sound. The sexes mate via inguinal amplexus (Roberts et al.1991).

Trends and Threats
The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species currently lists N. albipes as “Least Concern” with a stable population trend and no major threats (Hero and Roberts 2004). However, the species may be affected by habitat conversion to agriculture, agricultural run-off, changes to topographic that may affects where ponds form, increased salinisation of surface waters, habitat degradation through grazing, introduced vegetation, and climate change.

While little taxon specific conservation measures are in place, approximately 8,000 square kilometers of habitat is under national or regional protection, with the largest elements of land being: Cape Arid National Park, Stirling Range National Park, Fitzgerald River National Park, and Lake Magenta National Reserve (Thackeray & Cresswell 1995).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Drainage of habitat
Habitat fragmentation
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants

References
 

Hero J.M., Roberts, D. 2004. Neobatrachus albipes. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 14 December 2012.  

Roberts, J.D., Mahony, M., Kendrick, P., Majors, C.M. (1991). ''A new species of burrowing frog, Neobatrachus (Anura: Myobatrachidae), from the eastern wheatbelt of Western Australia.'' Records of Western Australian Museum, 15, 23-32.  

Thackway, R. and I.D.Cresswell (1995). An interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia: a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Reserve Systems Unit, Canberra, Australia.



Written by C. Michael Hogan (luminatech AT yahoo.com), Lumina Technologies
First submitted 2012-12-14
Edited by Michelle S. Koo and Ann T. Chang (2013-05-16)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2014. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Nov 26, 2014).

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