Platymantis spelaeus Brown & Alcala, 1982
Negros Cave Frog
In life the dorsal coloration is olive-green to brown, with darker mottling. The thighs have dark bars on the upper surfaces and have orange or lavender inner surfaces. The ventrum is creamy and sometimes has brown flecking (Brown and Alcala 1982).
This species is a member of the Platymantis dorsalis group, which is characterized by small, blunt digital discs, narrow subtending part of the digits, strongly protruding subarticular tubercles which are usually pointed, and non-T-shaped terminal phalanges (Alcala and Brown 1998).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Philippines
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Platymantis spelaeus is unusual in that it is a cave-dwelling frog, (though it does not appear to be exclusively found in caves, as it also occurs in limestone rock crevices, within forested areas; Alcala et al. 2004). The initial specimens were collected near the entrances of moist limestone caves, in crevices within the walls or the floor (Brown and Alcala 1982). It is nocturnal (Alcala and Brown 1998).
Platymantis spelaeus males call in large choruses, particularly on rainy evenings in the hours immediately following sunset. These frogs call from small caves, both inside and at the cave mouths, as well as farther away from caves. Frogs calling at locations away from caves were observed on limestone hillsides, disturbed scrubby vegetation, and limestone boulders at the edges of fields. The call is a complex tonal whistle with two syllables that sounds bird-like. The syllables consist of a higher frequency first note and lower frequency second note of roughly equal duration. Initially there are 2-4 single calls ("pee-coh"), progressing to 2-5 paired two-note calls with a brief pause in between ("pee-coh, pee-coh...pee-coh, pee-coh"). The first note begins at 2.2-2.4 kHz, rises to 2.4-2.8 kHz in mid-call, then falls away to 1.9-2.1 kHz. The second note is more complex, beginning with an initial rapidly pulsed vibrational element that converts to a pure tone of about 1.7-1.89 kHz, rising to 2.1 kHz, and finally falling to 1.9 kHz. For paired calls, the harmonic structure is more complex for the second call than for the first, or for unpaired (single) calls, with as many as 5-6 harmonic multiples of the fundamental on the first note of the second call (vs. 2-3 multiples otherwise) (Brown et al. 2002).
This species also probably has direct development, like all other species of Philippine Platymantis where the reproductive mode is known, but unlike most frogs. The eggs are fairly large (2.5-3.0 mm in diameter) and unpigmented. Embryos develop directly into froglets, bypassing the tadpole developmental stages (Alcala and Brown 1998).
Trends and Threats
However, because the species is found only in limestone areas not greater than 600 km2 in area, Alcala et al. (2004) have recommended that Platymantis spelaeus should retain its ‘endangered’ status. Habitat loss due to deforestation is a particular threat, and disease from newly introduced species may also have been a factor in the population decline (Turner et. al. 2003).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Alcala, A. C. and Brown, W. C. (1998). Philippine Amphibians: Illustrated Field Guide. Bookmark, Inc., Philippines.
Alcala, A. C., and Alcala, E. L. (2000). ''The Negros Cave Frog is critically endangered.'' Froglog 2000, 39, 1.
Alcala, E. L., Alcala, A. C., and Dolino, C. N. (2005). ''Amphibians and reptiles in tropical rainforest fragments on Negros Island, the Philippines.'' Environmental Conservation, 31, 254-261.
Brown, R. M., Dolino, C. N., Alcala, E., Diesmos, A. C., and Alcala, A. C. (2002). ''The advertisement calls of two endangered species of endemic Philippine frogs: Platymantis spelaeus and Platymantis insulatus (Anura: Ranidae).'' Silliman Journal, 43(1), 91-109.
Brown, W. C. and Alcala, A. C. (1970). ''A new species of the genus Platymantis (Ranidae) with a list of amphibians known from South Gigante Island, Philippines.'' Occasional Papers of the California Academy of Sciences, 84, 1-8.
Brown, W. C. and Alcala, A. C. (1982). ''A new cave Platymantis (Amphibia: Ranidae) from the Philippine Islands.'' Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 95, 386-391.
Turner, C. S., Tamblyn, A., Dray, R., Maunder, L., and Raines, P. S. (2003). The Biodiversity of the Upper Imbang-Caliban Watershed, North Negros Forest Reserve, Negros Occidental, Philippines. Coral Cay Conservation, London.
Originally submitted by: Zaina Khan (first posted 2004-11-04)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2008-01-28)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2008 Platymantis spelaeus: Negros Cave Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/4918> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 6, 2022.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2022. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 6 Oct 2022.
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