AmphibiaWeb - Leptobrachella yeae


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Leptobrachella yeae Shi, Hou, Song, Jiang & Wang, 2021
English name: Ye’s leaf litter toad; Chinese name: Ye Shi Zhang Tu Chan (叶氏掌突)
family: Megophryidae
subfamily: Leptobrachiinae
genus: Leptobrachella
Species Description: Shi S, Y Hou, Z Song, J-p Jiang and B Wang. 2021. A new Leaf Litter Toad of Leptobrachella Smith, 1925 (Anura, Megophryidae) from Sichuan Province, China with supplementary description of L. oshanensis. Asian Herpetological Research 12: 143–166

AmphibiaChina logo AmphibiaChina 中国两栖类.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Leptobrachella yeae is a species of toad in the Megophryidae family that was first described in 2021. It is a moderately sized toad; the male snout-vent length ranges from 25.8 to 32.6 mm, while the two female specimens are larger with snout-vent lengths of 33.7 and 34.1 mm. The head is longer than wide. In the profile, the snout is bluntly rounded, and in the dorsal view, it is obtusely pointed. The snout projects slightly over the lower jaw and is longer than the eye diameter. The oval nostrils are closer to the tip of the snout than the eyes. The canthus rostralis is distinct and the vertical loreal region is concave. The flat interorbital space is much longer than the upper eyelid, but only a bit longer than the internarial distance. The eye diameter is less than twice as the diameter of the round tympanum. The tympanum is separated from the eye by about ⅔ the diameter of the tympanum. The skin on the dorsal surface of the head and body is smooth with tiny granules or short ridges. There are also bumps on the upper lids, and granules and bumps on the dorsal surfaces of the limbs. The lateral surface of the head and the ventral surface of the body is also smooth. Pectoral, humeral, femoral glands are present with the pectoral glands being indistinct and flat, the humeral glands being distinct and raised, and the femoral glands being distinct and slightly swollen. The forearm is slender and moderately long, but shorter than the hand. The large inner metacarpal tubercle is nearly rounded and is completely separated from the smaller outer metacarpal tubercle. The unfringed fingers have relative finger lengths of I < II < IV < III. The tips expand slightly, and there are no subarticular tubercles. The hind limbs are relatively long with the shanks being about equal to the thigh and foot. When the legs are held at right angles to the body the heels partially overlap. When the hind limb is adpressed along the body, the tibiotarsal articulation reaches the middle of the eye. The inner metatarsal tubercle is oval and there is no outer metatarsal tubercle. The toes have rudimentary webbing with a formula of I 2 – 3 II 2 – 3¼ III 2¾ – 4 IV 4¼ – 2½, distinct narrow fringes, and dermal ridges under toes II - V that are interrupted at the articulations. The toes do not have subarticular tubercles (Shi et al. 2021).

Several distinguishing features of L. yeae differentiate it from other species within the genus. Notably, this species has a moderately larger body size compared to its counterparts, with males measuring between 25.8 and 32.6 mm and females ranging from 33.7 to 34.1 mm. Additionally, L. yeae bears distinctive black spots along its flanks, as well as rudimentary webbing and fringes on its toes. Its dorsal skin is relatively smooth, adorned with small granules that are not present in other closely related species. More specifically, L. yeae can be distinguished from L. oshanensis, a closely related species with similar distribution, by their advertisement calls (Shi et al. 2021, see the article for comparison with all Leptobrachella species).

In life, the variation in dorsal head and body coloration ranges from deep brown, orange brown, and greyish brown to yellowish brown tones. The iris is bicolored, displaying a copper hue above and silver below with black mottling. Distinct black spots are present on the flanks. The ventral body is cream white with small brown speckling on sides and upper abdomen. Greyish-black patches on the posterior thigh are either absent or small in this species (Shi et al. 2021).

In preserved specimens, the head and body are grey and brown, featuring a dark brown triangle between the upper eyelids and deep grey-brown patches on the shoulders, bordered by pale grey. The sides of the head are grey with three vertical dark brown bands before the nostrils and below the front part of the eye. Beneath the supratympanic fold, the skin is dark brown, encompassing most of the tympanum and upper temporal region. The lower flanks are grey with large dark brown patches, some comparable in size to the tympanum. The limbs and dorsal digits appear light brown with deep brown cross bands, excluding the upper arms, which lack bands, and the hind limbs, where bands are edged with pale grey. The posterior thighs lack greyish-black coloration when viewed from below but display a deep brown stripe dorsally. The throat is a smoky light brownish-yellow shade with yellowish cream spots along the margins. The chest and belly have a yellowish cream tone with light brown speckling, denser on the chest and lateral belly. The ventral thighs and anterior arms have a yellowish hue, while the ventral tibia and posterior arms are deeper in color. Tiny light yellow dots are scattered across the ventral limbs, and both the pectoral, femoral, and humeral glands, and the ventrolateral line appear yellowish cream (Shi et al. 2021).

Sexual dimorphism is evident in L. yeae, with differences observed in both size and the absence of femoral adipose glands in females. These glands, responsible for releasing sexual pheromones to aid in mating, are not present in the female specimens. Individual variations in color and patterning are also present in L. yeae, with some individuals having irregular markings on shoulders and differing coloration on dorsal limbs corresponding to dorsal body coloration (Shi et al. 2021).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: China

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Leptobrachella yeae is found on Emei Mountain in the Sichuan Province of China at elevations ranging from 783 - 1806 meters in habitat consisting of broadleaf forests with montane streams (Shi et al. 2021).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Males are often heard calling in groups near montane streams in broadleaf forests during the evening. Advertisement calls are simple, consisting of long or short repeated notes with two distinct types: type A and type E. Type A calls are characterized by a dominant frequency of around 4562.5 Hz, containing approximately 7.2 pulses and lasting about 70.3 milliseconds. Type E calls have a dominant frequency of approximately 4831.9 Hz, containing around 34 pulses and lasting about 544.5 milliseconds. The amplitude of pulses is similar at the beginning and end of the call, with a rise occurring at around 29.7 milliseconds for type A and 62.4 milliseconds for type E. Additionally, both types of calls have frequency harmonics at specific ranges (Shi et al. 2021).

Leptobrachella yeae exhibits indirect development (Shi et al. 2021).

At Gosner stage 26, the body length ranged from 14.4 - 16.1 mm. At Gosner stage 36, one specimen had a body length of 17.7 mm and another had a body length of 18.6. Tadpoles of this species have elliptical elongated bodies, widest at the level of the heart, with a slightly depressed appearance. However, the body height is great than the body width. The snout is rounded, and the moderate, oval nostrils have three to four small lobes at the rim. The nostrils are closer to the eyes than the tip of the snout. The eyes are relatively small. Large lymphatic sacs are on the lateral portion of the head. The small oral disc is located and directed ventrally, transversely elongated, and cup-shaped. The upper labium is slightly concave at the middle, and the lower labium is divided. It has small papillae around the anterior margin to the corner of the mouth, but the disc is not laterally marginated. There are one to two submarginal papillae located to the sides of the lower labium keratodont rows and anteromedially to the third posterior keratodont row. The keratodonts are curved and sharp with a tooth row formula of I: 3+3(2+2)/2+2: I. The second anterior tooth row is the longest, followed by the third then first. The first anterior row is short and almost oval. The second and third are interrupted by the upper beak, with the second only being slightly separated while the third is greatly spaced. The posterior first row is the longest followed by the second and then the third. The first posterior row is a third of the length of the first and the second is half the length of the first. Both jaw sheaths are robust and roughly serrated. A lateral line is present starting from the angular line at the orbit. The spiracle is short and located on the sinistral side of the body. The moderately sized vent tube is attached to the dextral side of the lower fin. The tail is long and strong, more than twice the length of the body. Both upper and lower fins extend from the proximal eighth of the tail to its tip and have their highest point at the distal third of the tail. Both fins are also smooth (Shi et al. 2021).

Leptobrachella yeae larvae can be differentiated from L. oshanensis by their coloration, body line distinctions, and to some extent by the labial tooth row formula. Specifically, L. yeae is translucent light brown while L. oshanensis is rufous colored. The dorsal and middle body line in L. yeae is indistinct, while it is distinct in L. oshanensis. Lastly, the labial tooth row formula for L. yeae is I: 3+3(2+2)/2+2: I while L. oshanensis is I:3+3/2+2:I (Shi et al. 2021).

In life, the dorsal body and tail muscle of the tadpole are translucent light brown, with copper speckling. The fins are transparent with light brown iridophores on the upper fin. The iris is also copper. The lateral sacs and ventrum are transparent. In preservation, the dorsal body and tail muscle appear pale brown, while the ventral part and fins remain transparent (Shi et al. 2021).

The tadpoles exhibit variation in relative eye size by developmental stage. Their mouth also has some variation with the tooth row formula varying from I: 3+3/2+2: I to I: 3+3/3+3: I and one individual having lower labium marginal papillae (Shi et al. 2021).

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

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss


Both Bayesian Inference and Maximum Likelihood analyses were conducted using 16S mtDNA and RAG1 nDNA, separately. The mitochondrial analyses had poor resolution with L. yeae forming a polytomy with L. alpinus, L. bijie, L. bourreti, L. chishuiensis, L. niveimontis, L. purpurus, L. suiyangensis, and L. wulingensis. However, the analyses of the RAG1 gene showed L. yeae being sister L. oshanensis, which is the next more closely related species after the polytomy in the mitochondrial analyses (Shi et al. 2021).

The specific epithet “yeae,” is in honor of Changyuan Ye for her contributions to the field of herpetology (Shi et al. 2021).

Chen, J. M., Poyarkov, N. A. Jr., Suwannapoom, C., Lathrop, A., Wu, Y.-H., Zhou, W.-W., Yang, 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. L., Murphy, R. W., Wang. Y.-Y., Chi, 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]

Shi, S., Hou, Y., Song, Z., Jiang, J.-p., and Wang, B. (2021). A new leaf Litter toad of Leptobrachella Smith, 1925 (Anura, Megophryidae) from Sichuan Province, China with supplementary description of L. oshanensis. Asian Herpetological Research 12(2), 143–166. [link]

Originally submitted by: Kate Brar (2024-05-31)
Description by: Kate Brar, Ann T. Chang (updated 2024-05-31)
Distribution by: Kate Brar (updated 2024-05-31)
Life history by: Kate Brar (updated 2024-05-31)
Larva by: Kate Brar, Ann T. Chang (updated 2024-07-11)
Comments by: Kate Brar, Ann T. Chang (updated 2024-05-31)

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

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2024 Leptobrachella yeae: English name: Ye’s leaf litter toad; Chinese name: Ye Shi Zhang Tu Chan (叶氏掌突) <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 17, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 17 Jul 2024.

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