AMPHIBIAWEB
Phrynobatrachus ungujae
family: Phrynobatrachidae
 
Species Description: Pickersgill, M 2007 Frog Search; results of expeditions to southern and eastern Africa. Edition Chimaira. Frankfurt-am-Main

© 2008 Martin Pickersgill (1 of 4)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Endangered (EN)
CITES
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Tanzania, United Republic of

 

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

   

From the Encyclopedia of Life account:

Summary

Phrynobatrachus ungujae is a miniature species (SVL < 16 mm) of puddle frog restricted to coastal forest in Kenya and on Unguja Island (Zanzibar), Tanzania. Members of this genus are identified by the presence of a midtarsal tubercle, elongate inner metatarsal tubercle, and outer metatarsal tubercle. Phrynobatrachus ungujae is characterized by a warty dorsum, including snout and eyelids, and the presence of a small conical protrusion on the eyelid. Small but distinct discs are present on the toes, often terminating in points.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Etymology

This species is named for Unguja Island (informally referred to as Zanzibar), part of the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Taxonomic Notes

Zimkus and Schick (2010) found that P. ungujae may be synonymous with P. ukingensis, but additional specimens of both taxa are needed.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Distribution

This species is known from Jozani Forest on Unguja Island (Zanzibar), Tanzania, and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in coastal Kenya. It is likely to be found in other forested localities on the East African coast (Pickersgill, 2008).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Morphology

It is a miniature species (SVL < 16 mm) of puddle frog with very warty dorsum, including snout and eyelids, and the presence of a small conical protrusion on the eyelid. Members of this genus are identified by the presence of a midtarsal tubercle, elongate inner metatarsal tubercle, and metatarsal tubercle. The head represents 38-39% of the SVL, which is considered broad compared to other dwarf species. The tibia is 55-61%, the foot is 48-53%, and femur is 48-53% of the SVL. Two pairs are oval scapular warts are present. The tympanum is hidden. Manual webbing is absent. Pedal webbing is rudimentary with 3.5-4 digits free of webbing on digit IV. Small but distinct discs are present on the toes, often terminating in points. Dorsum is grey to brown with a dark triangle between the eyes. Vertebral lines are not present. Some specimens have a light-colored saddled-shaped region on the back, while others have a bright orange or yellow stripe over the back, ending abruptly at the occiput. The upper and lower lips are weakly barred black and grey, although the lower jaw barring in males is obscured by duskiness. Minute asperities are present in males only in the mental region, while females exhibit weak peri-anal asperities. Males show little evidence of bagginess in the throat but do exhibit a swollen thenar gland or nuptial pad. Femoral glands are barely discernible on the distal portion of the thigh in males. Venter is white and unmarked, except for a pair of dark gular patches which may be present in females (Pickersgill, 2007).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Size

Phrynobatrachus ungujae is a miniature (snout–vent length < 16 mm) puddle frog species. Type material includes males that range in SVL from 12-13 mm, while females are larger at 13-16 mm (Pickersgill, 2007).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Diagnostic Description

This species is distinguishable from other dwarf Phrynobatrachus by its warty dorsum, including snout and eyelids, and the presence of a small conical protrusion on the eyelid. Small but distinct discs are present on the toes, often terminating in points. Males do not exhibit the baggy throat seen in other species (Pickersgill, 2007).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Comparisons

Phrynobatrachus ungujae differs from many East African dwarf puddle frogs by its well-developed digital discs, often with terminal points. Phrynobatrachus inexpectatus, P. mababiensis (including its junior synonyms P. vanrooyeni, P. chitialaensis, P. broomi), P. minutus, P. parvulus (including its junior synonyms P. schoutedeni, P. ukingensis nyikae) and the P. kakamikro are all similar in size but do not exhibit expanded toe tips. Phrynobatrachus inexpectatus, P. minutus and P. parvulus males in breeding condition can also be distinguished by throat colour, dark grey, yellowish and dark grey, respectively. The foot of P. kinangopensis and P. perpalmatus is well webbed, distinguishing it from this species. Phrynobatrachus rungwensis, P. ukingensis, and P. uzungwensis share similar SVL, exhibit well-developed digital discs and an indistinct tympanum but are slightly larger. In addition, the throat is heavily pigmented in P. ukingensis, while P. uzungwensis exhibits extensive pedal webbing, and the gular region in males is yellow. Phrynobatrachus breviceps and P. stewartae also exhibit more extensive pedal webbing (at maximum two and a half phalanges of fourth toe free of webbing).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Habitat and Ecology

Both Jozani Forest and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest are coastal forest. This species lives within leaf litter on the forest floor. All records are from very close to sea-level (Pickersgill, 2008).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Associations

Frogs of this species were collected with Phrynobatrachus acridoides juveniles from Jozani Forest (Pickersgill, 2007).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Population Biology

It is abundant in Jozani Forest (Pickersgill, 2008).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Advertisement Call

Advertisement calls were reported by Pickersgill (2007) from a single specimen recorded from Jozani Forest. The voice is a typical, high-pitched call associated with miniaturized puddle frogs with a buzz terminated by ticks. Frequency range of the single male ranged from 3.9-4.9 kHz and calls were of variable length, with 50 pps. Call ends in one or more metallic-sounding ticks, 0.17 seconds after the buzz.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Phylogenetics

Mitochodrial sequence data from the 16S rRNA gene demonstrate that sequences of P. ungujae form a polytomy with P. ukingensis, and this clade is found to be sister to specimens identified as P. mababiensis B from Kenya and Tanzania. (Zimkus and Schick, 2010). In complete analyses of 12S rRNA, valine-tRNA, and 16S rRNA fragment by Zimkus et al. (2010), this result is supported. These molecular analyses suggest that P. ungujae may be synonymous with P. ukingensis, which is not surprising given that this species was often confused with P. ukingensis prior to its description (Pickersgill, 2007). However, only a single sequence of P. ukingensis was included in this study, and as a result further investigation, including additional genetic samples of both species, is needed.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List (2009) categories this species as Endangered because its Extent of Occurrence is less than 5,000 km2, all individuals are in fewer than five locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Trends

Populations of this species are decreasing (Pickersgill, 2008).


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Threats

It may be unable to adapt to loss of its forest habitat (Pickersgill, 2007). The major threats are expanding agriculture and loss of forest habitat due to tree cutting (Pickersgill, 2008)


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Conservation Actions and Management

It occurs in the Arabuko-Sokoke National Park. Jozani Forest is within the Proposed Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. Both of these areas need increased protection. Surveys are needed to determine whether or not this species survives at any other sites (Pickersgill, 2008)


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/