Morphology: Bufo kassasii, or the Nile Valley Toad, is a relatively small toad with a maximum snout-vent length of 34 mm in males and 38.5 mm in females. The snout is short and somewhat pointed, and the tympanum is large and clearly visible. The parotoid glands are indistinct, spinose, and oval shaped. On the hands, finger II is longer than finger I. Hind legs are short, and some webbing is present between toes. The dorsum is quite granular and spinose. Ventral sides are also granular. The tarsal ridge is absent. Males have a subgular vocal sac and are considerably more spinose than females.
Coloration: The dorsum is light olive gray with paired dark blotches in the interorbital, pectoral and sacral areas. There is usually a thin white mid-dorsal stripe. Ventral sides are white, occasionally with dark flecking. The femoral area has crimson patches. Posterior thighs and the area under the armpits may also have crimson blotches. Overall, males are more suffused with yellow and have a reduced dorsal pattern compared to females. The throat is pale orange in males (Baha El Din 2006, Baha El Din 1993).
Bufo kassasii resembles B. steindachneri but is smaller and less spinose with an indistinct parotoid and a larger tympanum (Baha El Din 1993).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Egypt
Bufo kassasii has only been observed in Egypt in the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta and the Fayoum Depression. The species is present all along the Nile, including in the middle of Cairo. Abundant populations have also been discovered in Luxor. Due to the establishment of reed swamps along river banks and canals in the wake of damming of the Nile, B. kassasi has spread upstream from its original habitat in the Nile Delta (Baha El Din 2006).
Unlike other Egyptian toads, Bufo kassasii is highly aquatic. It is common to densely vegetated aquatic areas such as reed swamps, rice fields, and overgrown canals. It has also been found associated with floating clumps of vegetation in the middle of the Nile River (Baha El Din 2006).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Bufo kassasi is seldom seen and even males calling close by are difficult to locate (Baha El Din 2006). Although the species is nocturnal, calls can be heard throughout the day, especially in spring and autumn (Baha El Din 2006). The distinctive call is simple and sounds like a rattle, averaging 3.46 pulses per call with an average call duration of 119.88 milliseconds (Akef and Schneider 1993, as Bufo vittatus). Although Akef and Schneider (1993) reported a lack of aggressive calls between males, Baha El Din (2006) states that antiphonal calls have been heard among males in the same area.
This species often occurs in very dense populations, especially in rice fields (Baha El Din 2006).
Trends and Threats
Aside from habitat loss and pollution in its vicinity, there are relatively few threats to this resilient and adaptable species (Tandy and Baha El Din 2006). It occurs within three protected areas within Egypt: Qarum, Lake Burullus and Nile Islands (Tandy and Baha El Din 2006).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
This species has been confused with Bufo vittatus in the literature up until 1993, when Baha El Din (1993) showed that the two species were distinct and that Bufo vittatus was confined to Uganda.
Akef, M.S.A., and Schneider, H. (1993). ''Reproductive behavior and mating call pattern in Degen's toad.'' Journal of African Zoology, 107, 97-104.
Baha El Din, S.M. (1994). ''A contribution to the herpetology of Sinai.'' British Herpetological Society Bulletin, 48, 18-27.
Tandy, M., and Baha El Din, S. (2006). Amietophrynus kassasii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 03 March 2009.
Written by Taha Jabbar (tjabbar AT berkeley.edu), Berkeley
First submitted 2009-02-24
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2009-03-04)
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