A small nocturnal frog from Madagascar. SVL 35-42 mm. Tympanum distinct, about 1/2 eye diameter. Tibiotarsal articulation can reach the eye. Fingertips distinctly enlarged, finger 2 shorter than finger 4. Males with a large tubercle at the inner side of the hand. Skin on the back smooth or slightly granular. Back reddish brown to dark brown, often with longitudinal dark brown markings, which mostly run backwards from the centre of the back to the flanks. A narrow white dorsolateral line forms a sharp border between the dorsal colouration and the uniformly dark flanks. Venter whitish or yellowish, sometimes with dark spots on the throat, which can be uniformly dark in the male (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Similar species: P. mihanika is smaller and has longer hindlimbs. P. guentheri (see that species). Cophyla and Platypelis have no distinct dorsolateral colour border (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar
Mainly eastern Madagascar. Occurs in Ambolokopatrika, Ambahaka forest, An'Ala, Andasibe, Andrambovato, Andrianony, Andringitra, Andringitra (Iantara river, Sahavatoy river), Anjahamaro, Anjanaharibe, Anjavidilava, Ankopakopaka forest, Ankoraka, Antsihanaka, Fenoarivo, Mahanoro, Mahavelona, Manombo, Maroantsetra, Marojejy, Maromandia village, Nosy Boraha, Nosy Mangabe, Ranomafana, Sainte Luce, Tampolo, Vatoharanana (Ranomafana), Voloina (Glaw and Vences 2007) from sea level up to 1200m asl (Vences and Raxworthy 2008). Some of these localities, especially in northern Madagascar, are in need of confirmation (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Habits: Males were found in tree-holes, together with eggs and tadpoles. A substantial part of a brood reared without the father died of a mould infection. Calls were heard at evening and night. A calling male was sitting on the forest floor, although males can also call from tree-holes and from tree trunks. Adults can be found in tree-holes, Ravenala leaf axils and tree-ferns. Juveniles and adult specimens can be observed during the day on the forest floor. One dissected female from Ranomafana contained 120 eggs. One male was accompanied by 60 eggs and 60 tadpoles (Fenerive). A couple, found together in a tree-hole at Nosy Boraha, deposited 43 eggs in captivity. The eggs are whitish and measure 3-3.2 mm. They are surrounded by two egg capsules and are not connected to each other. Tadpoles are whitish and of the non-feeding type. Their total length is about 17 mm. Metamorphosing juveniles measure 6 mm from snout to vent and they are either brown, covered with light spots, or greenish. Their fingertips are not yet enlarged (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Calls: A low frequency howl. Calls are arranged in series, call repetition rate is ca. 26/min (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Trends and Threats
Species is listed as Least Concerned by the IUCN Redlist in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category (Vences and Raxworthy 2008).
Though it occurs in many protected areas, its forest habitat is receding due to subsistence agriculture, timber extraction, charcoal manufacture, and invasive spread of eucalyptus, livestock grazing, fire and expanding human settlements (Vences and Raxworthy 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007) and Vences and Raxworthy (2008).
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
Vences, M. and Raxworthy, C. (2008). Plethodontohyla notosticta. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 15 April 2009.
Originally submitted by: Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (first posted 2001-10-23)
Edited by: Catherine Aguilar, Michelle S. Koo (2021-10-10)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Plethodontohyla notosticta: Mahanoro Digging Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/2354> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 3, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 3 Jun 2023.
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