AMPHIBIAWEB
Microbatrachella capensis
Micro frog
family: Pyxicephalidae
subfamily: Cacosterninae

© 2010 Division of Herpetology, University of Kansas (1 of 1)

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: South Africa

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Critically Endangered (CR)
See IUCN account.
CITES
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

   

From the Encyclopedia of Life account:

Distribution

M. capensis is endemic to South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho within 10 km of the coast in areas with an annual rainfall of >500 mm. The species is restricted to the winter-rainfall region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).


Author: de Villiers, A.L.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Morphology

Tongue lacks a median papilla. Head is as long as broad, and the snout is rounded, hardly as long as the orbit. The canthus rostralis is absent. The interorbital space is broader than the upper eyelid. Typanum is hidden. Fingers and toes are obtuse; tips are not dilated. The first finger is slightly shorter than the second. Toes are one-third webbed; webbing is deeply notched but continues as a frige to the last or penultimate phalanx. Subarticular tubercles are small and feebly prominent. There is a very small inner metatarsal tubercle, and no tarsal tubercle is present. The tarso-metatarsal articulation reaches the eye. The tibia is slightly shorter than the foot, measuring nearly 2/5 the length of the head and body. Skin is smooth. Dorsum is dark brown and speckled with a lighter color. A light band is present along each side. A dark bar is present between the eyes, and a narrow, light vertebral line is present. Venter is borwn, and the belly is spotted with white (Boulenger, 1910).


Authors: Zimkus, Breda; de Villiers, A.L.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Size

The holotype measured 15 mm from snout to vent (Boulenger, 1910).


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

Diagnostic Description

M. capensis is one of the smallest amphibians in southern Africa, attaining a length of only c.18 mm. The pupil is horizontally elliptical. The toes are partially webbed, with 2–3 phalanges of the longest toe free of webbing. The dorsum generally has a variable green, brown and/ or grey colour, usually interspersed with darker shading and markings. A thin vertebral stripe is often present, sometimes flanked by broader lateral stripes. The ventrum is smooth and off-white or with variable black and white mottling. The throat area of males is plain brown without mottling. The length of the shank is less than half the body length (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).


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

Habitat and Ecology

M. capensis has specialized habitat requirements and is sensitive to urban and agricultural threats and invasive plants and animals. The species is restricted to certain wetlands in low-lying coastal areas of the Fynbos Biome. The wetlands comprise ponds, pans, vleis and coastal lakelets filled with darkly stained, humic, generally acidic waters (pH 4.0–7.0). Most of these wetlands are seasonal, and by late summer most breeding sites are dry. Some of the larger wetlands (<25%) at times still retain some water by the end of the dry season, and a few never seem to dry up. The wetland substrates tend to contain a dark humic layer, and the sandy surroundings vary from white to grey to almost black, depending on the humic content. When their wetland habitat starts to dry up, these frogs bury themselves and aestivate through the dry season (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).


Author: de Villiers, A.L.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Advertisement Call

The call is a series of lowpitched scratches emitted at a rate of about one per second (Passmore and Carruthers 1995). It is a relatively vocal species and is known to call in high densities. The calls can be heard both day and night, but calling activity is generally more intense at night. At prime breeding sites under ideal conditions, choruses of hundreds of individuals can be heard. Males call from emergent vegetation (e.g., restios) at water level, and from floating vegetation (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).


Author: de Villiers, A.L.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Reproduction

M. capensis is a winter breeder and commences breeding once the rains have filled its seasonal wetland habitat. Breeding activity has been recorded as early as May (Visser 1979) and as late as October, but the prime breeding season is July–September (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).


Author: de Villiers, A.L.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status

M. capensis is southern Africa’s most threatened lowland amphibian. More than 80% of its habitat has been lost. Previously listed as Rare (McLachlan 1978) and Endangered (Branch 1988), Harrison et al. (2001) finds the species is now classified Critically Endangered (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).


Author: de Villiers, A.L.
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/