AmphibiaWeb - Leptobrachella bidoupensis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Leptobrachella bidoupensis (Rowley, Le, Tran & Hoang, 2011)
family: Megophryidae
subfamily: Leptobrachiinae
genus: Leptobrachella
Species Description: Rowley JJL, Le DTT, Tran DTA, Hoang HD, 2011 A new species of Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae) from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 2796:15-28.
Taxonomic Notes: Chen, J., N. A. Poyarkov, Jr., C, Suwannapoom, A. Lathrop, Y.-H. Wu, W.-w. Zhou, Z.-y. Yuan, J.-q. Jin, H.-m. Chen, H.-q. Liu, T. Q. Nguyen, S. N. Nguyen, T. V. Duong, K. Eto, K. Nishikawa, M. Matsui, N. L. Orlov, B. L. Stuart, R. M. Brown, J. J. L. Rowley, R. W. Murphy, Y.-y. Wang, and J. Che. 2018. Large-scale phylogenetic analyses provide insights into unrecognized diversity and historical biogeography of Asian leaf-litter frogs, genus Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 124: 162–171. (synonym: Leptolalax)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Leptobrachella bidoupensis is a small megophrid frog ranging in size from 23.5 - 24.6 mm in males and 29.2 - 29.4 mm in females. Its head is slightly longer than it is wide with a snout that protrudes a bit beyond the margin of the lower jaw and the nostril closer to the tip of the snout than the eye. The tympanum is raised compared to the skin around it and is slightly smaller than the eye. This species lacks vomerine teeth and a pineal ocellus (third eye), while it has a tongue that is long with a notch at the posterior tip. The tips of its fingers and toes are rounded and the fingers lack webbing and lateral fringes, but the toes have webbing and slight lateral fringes. The tibia is relatively short and wide, with the width one-third of the length. The skin on the dorsal surface is relatively smooth with small patches of rough skin on the ventrolateral surfaces, eyelids, and legs (Rowley et al. 2011).

Seven tadpoles in stages 25, 26 and 36 have been described. At stages 25 they have a total length range between 29.8 - 43.3 mm and at 26 they range from 41.6 - 57.4 mm. The single stage 36 individual was 43.6 mm in total length and 14.9 mm in body length. The body length ranges at stage 25 were 11.0 - 14.6, and at stage 26, they were 13.0 - 17.2 mm. The body is elongated and elliptical in the dorsal view. It is widest in the middle of the trunk and there is a shallow, but noticeable constriction between the head and the body. In the lateral view, the body is depressed. In the dorsal view the snout is rounded and in the lateral view the is head sub-triangular with a bluntly rounded snout. The oval nostrils are large, directed anterodorsolaterally, and positioned closer to the snout tip than eyes. They have a low, three-lobed rim along the openings. The dorsally positioned eyes are small with anterodorsolaterally directed pupils. The labial tooth row formula is 1(1)/0. The sinistral spiracle is located at the middle of the body. The spiracle tube is tapered and directed posterodorsally with the inner wall fused to the body wall up to the most distal end. Along the flanks are large lateral lymphatic sacks that extend from the spiracle to the end of the body. A lateral line system is visible starting dorsally near the nostrils and eyes and extending above the lymphatic sacs to the dorsal fin and midline of the tail. The dextral vent tube is moderately long and oblique with a posterolaterally directed opening. It attaches to the ventral fin. The tail is moderately long, ranging from 18.8 - 28.7 mm at stage 25, 28.6 - 40.2 mm at stage 26, and being 28.7 mm at stage 36. It is also moderately tall and has well developed musculature with a bluntly tapered tip. The tail fins begin at the body-tail junction and are low with the dorsal fin being slightly taller than the ventral fin. They reach their maximal height in the posterior third of the tail (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

Metamorphs at stages 44 - 46 had snout-vent length ranges of 17.4 - 18.5 mm. They have elongated bodies with bluntly round snouts and slim limbs. They have faintly visible canthus rostralis and supratympanic ridges (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

Adult L. bidoupensis is distinguished morphologically from similar species, L. applebyi and L. melicus, based on its coloring on its ventral surface, small size, bi-colored iris, smooth skin texture, short tibia, and unique male advertising call (Rowley et al. 2011).

Leptobrachella bidoupensis tadpoles can be distinguished from known tadpoles of the genus by a combination of features. More specifically, L. bidoupensis has an elongated bodies with a shallow depression between the head and the body that places it intermediately between the more elongated body of L. mjobergi and the more elliptical bodies of L. gracilis and L. rowleyae. Additionally, a three-lobed, elevated rim around the nostrils differentiates L. bidoupensis from L. oshanensis and possibly L. pelodytoides, which have a four-lobed rim. The combination of the above features and a tail that is twice as long as the body, a pale-brown coloration without a pattern, and a labial tooth row formula of 1(1)/0 differentiates L. bidoupensis from others in the genus (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

In life, adult L. bidoupensis males are dark reddish-brown with black mottling on the dorsal surface and perpendicular thin black stripes on the dorsal side of the arms and legs. The ventral surface, including the throat, arms, and legs, is a similar color but with white speckling. When preserved, males remain a similar color, except on the ventral surface where they become a plain brown. Females in life have similar coloring as males on the dorsal surface but are a light pink on the ventral surface, which turns to pale brown when preserved. Both males and females have a unique eye coloration where the top half of the iris is reddish-brown and the bottom half is silvery gray with a vertical slit pupil (Rowley et al. 2011).

Metamorphs have a dark brown dorsal ground coloration marked with with fine whitish speckling. There is a darker, faint V-shaped interorbital marking and a blackish stripe along the canthus rostralis and supratympanic ridge. The dorsal surfaces of the limbs have dark transverse bars. Additionally, the upper arms are pinkish-orange and there is an oval orange spot on the shoulder. The iris is bicolored with copper in the upper region and silver-grey in the lower region (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

Tadpoles in life, at night, appear unpigmented with semi-transparent fleshy-pink skin. In daylight, the dorsal and lateral surfaces are pale brown with darker surfaces on the back and upper snout. The dorsal fin and the posterior tip of the tail have brownish marbling. The ventral fin is mostly unpigmented with some brown speckling. The lateral lines are white. The skin on the ventrum is transparent, such that the intestinal coils are visible. The spiracle, vent tube, and oral disc are also unpigmented. The iris is black. In preservative, the brown color fades to grey (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

Leptobrachella bidoupensis displays sexual dichromatism on their ventral surfaces with females being pink while males are white. Both males and females are a bit brighter color in life than when preserved, and more change is noticed with preservation in the larger females than in males. Finally, the split of iris color varies with the reddish-brown coloration spreading further down in some individuals (Rowley et al. 2011).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Viet Nam

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Leptobrachella bidoupensis was initially found in 2011 at night at an elevation ranging from 1,123 - 1,352 m in small stream corridors of evergreen forest in the Pu Hoat Nature Reserve in Nghe An Province, Vietnam (Rowley et al. 2011). As of 2020, it's known from three localities in Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, Lam Dong Province in Viet Nam at elevational ranges between 1,620 - 1,730 m asl and likely extends into the Langbian Plateau (IUCN 2020).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Leptobrachella bidoupensis was found in smaller stream corridors and males were observed calling from rocks, the stream bank, and vegetation in these small streams (Rowley et al. 2011). The breeding season for L. bidoupensis is prolonged, extending at least from February to June (Rowley et al. 2011, Vassilieva et al. 2021).

The mating calls of male L. bidoupensis consist of a single note lasting on average 9.8 ms and repeated at a rate of about ten calls per second with an average inter-call interval of 86 ms. The slow and rasping single note advertisement call of L. bidoupensis is extremely faint and difficult to hear even when compared to other Leptobranchella species (Rowley et al. 2011).

Eggs were laid on or under rocks near the edge of the stream bank for a few weeks in spring (Tron 2015).

Various sized tadpoles of L. bidoupensis can be observed in rocky cascaded streams with shallow pools and pebble or rocky bottoms throughout February to June and young metamorphs can be found in June. As a result, the larval period is assumed to lasts several months and possibly over a year. Tadpoles are active at night and hide under rocks to avoid light (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

Other Leptobrachella tadpole species have been observed to have fossorial lifestyles where they have been seen digging in the gravel substrate of the small streams where they are spawned (Chen 2018). In general, Leptobrachella tadpoles are found in fast-moving streams and possess an extended caudal skeleton that anchors muscles, therefore, assisting in navigating plant debris and burrowing into the stream bed (Handrigan et al. 2007).

Laval L. bidoupensis share their microhabitat with Leptobrachium pullum, Leptobrachium leucops, and Ophryophryne elfina (Vassilieva et al. 2021).

For larval description please see:

Vassilieva, A. B. (2021). Larval external morphology and chondrocranium of Leptobrachella bidoupensis (Anura: Megophryidae), an endemic litter toad from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 5068(4), 587–594.

Members of the Leptobrachella genus display a fossorial, aquatic lifestyle, aided by their elongated body shapes, semi-calcified vertebrae, and muscular tails (Chen et al. 2018).

Trends and Threats
Habitat loss is the primary threat to L. bidoupensis (Chen 2018). Its only known from three localities with an estimated extent of occupancy of about 214 km². The quality of that habitat is in decline (Rowley 2011, IUCN 2020).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Habitat fragmentation
Loss of distinctiveness through hybridization

At the time of the species description, L. bidoupensis was assigned to the genus Leptolalax because of its close association with L. applebyi and L. melicus, both from the Kon Tum Plateau to the north (Rowley et al. 2011). However, a 2018 phylogenetic study using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian approaches on morphological characters and six nuclear genes of Leptolalax and Leptobrachella sunk Leptolalax into Leptobrachella (Chen et al. 2018).

The exact placement of L. bidoupensis is undetermined. A 2018 study indicated that L. bidoupensis is sister to L. pyrrhops. Together they are sister to a clade composed of L. applebyi, L. ardens, and an undescribed Leptobrachella (Chen et al. 2018). This relationship is supported by a 2020 Bayesian analysis on partial 16S mtDNA, however, their results indicate that L. bidoupensis is first sister to L. pallida and then to L. pyrrhops (Luo et al. 2020). Additionally, other 16S mtDNA studies (Chen 2019, 2020) found that L. bidoupensis is sister to the clade composed of L. pallida and L. kaloensis while L. pyrrhops is removed by three degrees of separation.

The species epithet, “bidoupensis” refers to the location where the frog is found, Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park in Langbian Plateau in southern Vietnam (Rowley et al. 2011).


Chen, J. M., Poyarkov, N. A., Suwannapoom, C., Lathrop, A., Wu, Y-H, Zhou, W-W, Yuan, Z-Y, Jin, J-Q, Chen, H-M, Liu, H-Q, Nguyen, T. Q., Nguyen, S. N., Duong, T. V., Eto, K., Nishikawa, K., Matsui, M., Orlov, N. L., Stuart, B. L., Brown, R. M., Rowley, J. J. L., Murphy, R. W., Wang, Y-Y, Che, J. (2018). "Large-scale phylogenetic analyses provide insights into unrecognized diversity and historical biogeography of Asian leaf-litter frogs, genus Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae)." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 124(2018), 162–171. [link]

Chen, W., Liao, X., Zhou, S., Mo, Y. (2019). "A new species of Leptobrachella (Anura: Megophryidae) from southern Guangxi, China." Zootaxa 4563(1): 67–82. [link]

Chen, W., Peng, W., Pan, W., Liao, N., Liu, Y., Huang, Y. (2021). "A new species of Leptobrachella Smith 1925 (Anura: Megophryidae) from Southern Guangxi, China." Zootaxa, 5020(3), 581–596. [link]

Handrigan, G. R., Haas, A., Wassersyg R. J. (2007). “Bony‐tailed tadpoles: the development of supernumerary caudal vertebrae in larval megophryids (Anura).” Evolution & Development, 9(6): 190–202. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2020). "Leptolalax bidoupensis (amended version of 2015 assessment)." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T48101579A176542583.

Luo, T., Xiao, N., Gao, K., Zhou, J. (2020). "A new species of Leptobrachella (Anura, Megophryidae) from Guizhou Province, China." ZooKeys 923: 115–140. [link]

Rowley, J.J.L., Le, D.T.T., Tran, D.T.A, Hoang, D.Y. (2011). “A new species of Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae) from southern Vietnam.” Zootaxa, 2796(1): 15-28. [link]

Tron, R., Das, I., Hooroo, J.N.K., Rangad, D. (2015). “Spring-breeding and mode in Leptolalax khasiorum (Anura, Megophryidae) in North-Eastern India.” Russian Journal of Herpetology, 22(3), 224-232. [link]

Originally submitted by: Evan Stanziano, Alexandra Swank, Olivia Thorn (2021-11-22)
Description by: Evan Stanziano, Alexandra Swank, Olivia Thorn, Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-12-02)
Distribution by: Evan Stanziano, Alexandra Swank, Olivia Thorn (updated 2021-11-22)
Life history by: Evan Stanziano, Alexandra Swank, Olivia Thorn, Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-12-02)
Larva by: Ann T. Chang (updated 2024-07-11)
Trends and threats by: Evan Stanziano, Alexandra Swank, Olivia Thorn (updated 2021-11-22)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2024-07-11)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2024 Leptobrachella bidoupensis <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 20, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 20 Jul 2024.

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