A small arboreal microhylid; male types 19-21 mm, specimens from Voloina 18-19 mm. Back color is variable: uniformly grayish brown with indistinct markings; sometimes with a distinct sand-glass shaped marking, consisting of small dark spots; sometimes also with a large light triangular patch, pointed forwards. Venter is whitish, sometimes with black pigmentation on the throat. Skin on the back is smooth. Tympanum indistinct with small lateral metatarsalia completely connected. Tibiotarsal articulation reaches the insertion of the arm or the tympanum. Fingertips are broad. Toe 5 longer than toe 3, in specimens from Voloina. Hands are without webbing; feet with a scarcely developed web. In the types: hand+lower arm/snout vent length ratio is 0.39-0.43; foot+tarsus/snout vent length ratio is 0.55-0.61. Males have small tubercle at the inner side of the hand and a single, largely distensible, subgular vocal sac. This species may be identical to the small specimens which have previously been classified as Platypelis pollicaris (Glaw and Vences 1994).
Similar species: Mainly Platypelis tsaratananaensis, which is larger and has longer hands and feet (hand+lower arm/snout vent length ratio is 0.44-0.58; foot+tarsus/snout vent length ratio is 0.57-0.68). P. alticola is larger; P. tuberifera, P. cowani, P. pollicaris and P. grandis are also larger and differ by call; P. milloti and P. barbouri differ by coloration and call. At Nosy Be, the species occurs
sympatrically with Cophyla phyllodactyla, which can only be distinguished by its larger size and its call. Anodonthyla can be distinguished by the characteristic shape of the male's prepollex (Glaw and Vences 1994).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar
Species is located in Ambolokopatrika (Andranomadio, Antsinjorano), Anjanaharibe-Sud, Manantenina, Marojejy, Nosy Be (Lokobe), Sambava, Voloina (Glaw and Vences 2007). It occurs from sea level up to 1200m asl (Andreone and Glaw 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Habits: Calling males have been observed at night, on leaves at perch heights of 1-1.5 m, or on rather thin bamboo trunks, always near or in primary rainforest (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Call consists of a single whistling note. Calls are arranged in series, which can last several minutes. Call duration is about 500-550 ms at Nosy Be (26°C) and 400 ms at Voloina; duration of intervals between calls is about 1210-1360 ms at Nosy Be and 1600-1900 ms at Voloina; call repetition rate is 36/min at Nosy Be and 30/min at Voloina. The frequency is about 4 kHz at Nosy Be and 5.5 kHz at Voloina. (Glaw and Vences 1994).
Trends and Threats
Species is listed as data deficient because of continuing uncertainties as to its extent of occurrence, status and ecological requirements. Its forest habitat is receding due to subsistence agriculture, timber extraction, charcoal manufacture, invasive spread of eucalyptus, livestock grazing, fires and expanding human settlements. It occurs in Parc National de Marojejy, the Réserve Spéciale d’Anjanaharibe-Sud, and the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale de Lokobe (Andreone and Glaw 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007) and Andreone and Glaw (2008).
Andreone, F. and Glaw, F. (2008). Cophyla occultans. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 01 May 2009.
Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (1994). A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Bonn.
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
Written by Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (m.vences AT tu-bs.de), Assistant Professor and Curator of Vertebrates at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Zoological Museum at the University of Amsterdam
First submitted 2002-01-25
Edited by Catherine Aguilar (2010-07-18)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2010 Cophyla occultans <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/2340> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 27, 2021.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 27 Feb 2021.
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