Breviceps sopranus Minter, 2003
Whistling rain frog, Isinana sekhwela/somtshingo (Zulu)
|Species Description: Minter, L.R. 2003. Two New Species of Breviceps (Anura:Microhylidae) from southern Africa. African Jo. of Herp. 52(1):9-21.|
DIAGNOSIS: (How this species is different from similar species)
Breviceps sopranus can be differentiated from other species by skin texture, size, patterning, and vocalizations. The small frame, finely granular dorsal skin, and smooth ventral skin of B. sopranus differs from B. verrucosus’s large body and densely granular dorsum and ventrum. Breviceps verrucosus also has glandular ridges on its back and a long outer toe that does not align to the morphology of B. sopranus. When compared to B. adspersus, B. sopranus is much smaller. Breviceps sopranus has fewer prominent patches and a longer fourth finger. Breviceps sopranus also has a number of distinctive markings that differentiates it from other species, particularly the B. mossambicus, which does not typically display these markings. However, some specimens of B. mossambicus exhibits skin patches that are similar to those on B. sopranus. Breviceps bagginsi can also have these patterns. The most efficient way to distinguish B. sopranus from related Breviceps species is through advertisement calls, which have subtle duration and pitch differences that can be detected on a sonogram. Breviceps adspersus, B. mossambicus, and B. bagginsi have shorter, pulsed calls compared to the extended, uninterrupted call of B. sopranus (Minter 2003).
COLORATION: (Please indicate if it is in life and or in preservative or if it’s unclear from the text)
In life, B. sopranus has an olive brown hue. It tends to have faint, scattered dark speckles throughout its body and a bar between its eyes. The pectoral and belly region is starkly white with a few spots interspersed at its sides. However, individual patterning varies (see below). Preserved specimens of B. sopranus are light brown with similarly colored patches (Minter 2003).
This frog is known to have a diverse range of coloration patterns. Breviceps sopranus often has a dark stripe that runs horizontally down its arm or thin stripe along its spine. Breviceps sopranus is characterized by its patches. Pale, typically light pink patches interrupted with darker areas are present on its stomach (Channing 2001). The species may also have two to four converging patches on its sides as well as a patch over its urostyle or pelvic area (Minter 2003).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: South Africa, Swaziland
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Breviceps sopranus begins calling at moderate relative humidities, ranging from 60% to 75% (Pretorius 2019) from perches 50 - 300 mm above the ground or on fallen branches and herbaceous plants under trees (Minter 2003). While they typically begin their calls when it is raining and cease choruses after showers dissipate, they are also recorded to call during nights without rainfall (Pretorius 2019).
Breviceps sopranus and B. mossambicus call from the same habitats (Channing 2001). Despite their active calls, male B. sopranus individuals often exhibit low intensity breeding patterns (Pretorius 2019).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
PHYLOGENETIC RELATIONSHIPS:Partial sequences of the 12S and 16S rRNA mtDNA and RAG1, BDNF, and SLC8A3 nuclear genes were used in Optimized Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference analyses and showed the most recent divergence event amongst the Breviceps genus occurred between B. sopranus and B. bagginsi (Nielsen 2018).
ETYMOLOGY: (Origin or explanation of scientific name)
The B. sopranus species epithet refers to its distinct, high-pitched advertisement call (Minter 2003).
In the IsiZulu language, B. sopranos is referred to as Isinana sekhwela or somtshingo (Phaka et al. 2019).
Channing, A. (2001). Rain Frogs, Rubber Frogs—Family Microhylidae. In Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa (pp. 209–236). Cornell University Press. [link]
Measy, G. J. (2011). Ensuring a future for South Africa’s frogs: a strategy for conservation research. SANBI Biodiversity Series 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. [link]
Minter, L. R. (1998). Aspects of the reproductive biology of Breviceps. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. [link]
Minter, L. R. (2003). Two new cryptic species of Breviceps (Anura: Microhylidae) from southern Africa. African Journal of Herpetology 52, 9–21. [link]
Nielsen, S. V., Daniels, S. R., Conradie, W., Heinicke, M. P., and Noonan, B. P. (2018). Multilocus phylogenetics in a widespread African anuran lineage (Brevicipitidae: Breviceps) reveals patterns of diversity reflecting geoclimatic change. Journal of Biogeography 45(9), 2067–2079. [link]
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2013. Breviceps sopranus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T57720A18362405. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T57720A18362405.en. Accessed on 25 October 2023.
Phaka, F.M., Netherlands, E.C., Kruger, D.J.D., and Du Preez, L.H. (2019). Folk taxonomy and indigenous names for frogs in Zululand, South Africa. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine 15, 17. [link]
Pretorius, W. W. (2019). Ecology and calling behaviour of the anurans of Northern Zululand, South Africa (dissertation). Natural and Agricultural Sciences. [link]
Originally submitted by: Sophie dela Cruz (2023-10-31)
Description by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2023-10-31)
Distribution by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2023-10-31)
Life history by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2023-10-31)
Larva by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2023-10-31)
Trends and threats by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2023-10-31)
Comments by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2023-10-31)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2023-10-31)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Breviceps sopranus: Whistling rain frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/6245> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Nov 30, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 30 Nov 2023.
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