AmphibiaWeb - Breviceps branchi


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Breviceps branchi Channing, 2012
Branch's Rain Frog
family: Brevicipitidae
genus: Breviceps
Species Description: Channing A 2012 A new species of rain frog from Namaqualand, South Africa (Anura: Brevicipitidae: Breviceps). Zootaxa 3381: 62-68.
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Data Deficient (DD)
National Status Unknown
Regional Status Unknown


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Breviceps branchi is a brevicipitid frog first identified by Channing in 2012. It was described from one male specimen with a snout-vent length of 41.3 mm. The top of its head is smooth, with a head width of 12.1 mm. Its angular snout protrudes, and its nostrils are thin slits with pale splotches on the outer rims. The distance between the nostrils is 2 mm. The eyelid length is 6.0 mm. Its upper eyelids are finely granular, and the margins of its eyelids has six tubercles. Its extremely granulated palms has a pair of rounded, slightly protruding inner metacarpal tubercles. The outer metacarpal tubercle is flat and divided. The well developed fingers have a smooth dorsal surface and a myriad supernumerary tubercles on the ventral surface. Its longest finger is its third, followed by the second, first, and fourth. Similar to its hands, B. branchi has well-developed toes that are smooth on the dorsal surface and very granulated below. The inner metatarsal tubercle is protruding, and the outer metatarsal tubercle is nearly parallel with the inner tubercle. Its second, third, and fourth toes have two subarticular tubercles. Breviceps branchi has fleshy webbing between its third and fourth toes, but the tip of its first toe extends beyond this webbing (Channing 2012).

Breviceps branchi and B. namaquensis are similar and differentiating them from each other is a challenge. Nevertheless, the two can be distinguished by subtle variations in coloration. Breviceps branchi and B. namaquensis tend to have dark bands under their eyes; however, the band on B. branchi reaches its arm insertion while the band on B. namaquensis does not. The many more abundant small granules under B. branchi’s fourth toe and third finger distinguish this species from B. namaquensis, which has smooth digits. Heavily granulated toes and fingers also set B. branchi apart from all other Breviceps (Channing 2012).

In life, B. branchi has a pale yellow-brown back with darker brown markings throughout. The tubercles at the margins of its eyelids are pale. The white lower eyelids of B. branchi contain fine dark speckles and transparent patches. It has paired pale patches on the sides of its body and a pale bar that connects its eyes. Its entire body is spotted with white glandular warts that are most conspicuous on its flanks. Its body also has multiple white-tipped glands with three or more openings. There is a dark band running from below its eyes toward its arm insertion. Breviceps branchi has white asperities on its throat and a clear patch on its belly. When preserved, the species becomes tan with white markings (Channing 2012).

Males are assumed to be smaller than females, consistent with other Breviceps (Channing 2001).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: South Africa

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This frog was found on red sands in Namaqualand, South Africa. The vegetation surrounding the habitat of B. branchi is the Northern Richtersveld Yellow Duneveld classification that is part of the Succulent Karoo Biome. Breviceps branchi is presumed to live in arid, sandy habitats like its sister species, B. namaquensis. Its upper elevation limit is 120 meters (IUCN 2017).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
As a Breviceps genus member, B. branchi reproduces by direct development. The smaller males are assumed to glue themselves to the backs of the larger females during amplexus (Channing 2001).

Breviceps species survives long periods of dryness by secreting mucous that waterproofs its skin and blocks all openings of its body. This causes the frog to inflate, increasing the body surface area for skin-mediated oxygen intake (Channing 2001).

Presumably, B. branchi deposits its eggs in shallow burrows like other Breviceps (Channing 2012, IUCN 2017).


Based on its genus, B. branchi is assumed to be a direct developing frog (Channing 2001).

Trends and Threats

Extensive diamond mining that occurs in the area that the first specimen of B. branchi was found and may threaten their survival (Channing 2012).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline



Optimized Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference trees from partial sequences of the 12S and 16S ribosomal rRNA genes as well as RAG1, BDNF, SLC8A3 nuclear genes found that B. branchi is sister to B. namaquensis with the next most closely related species being B. macrops (Nielsen 2016, 2018).

The species epithet commemorates the retirement of Dr. W.R. “Bill” Branch, a herpetologist at Bayworld, formally known as the Port Elizabeth Museum (Channing 2012).

The holotype is a male that was collected at a security gate west guarding diamonds mines on the traffic-ridden Holgat River bridge (Channing 2012).


Channing, A. 2001. Rain Frogs, Rubber Frogs—Family Microhylidae. In Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa (pp. 209–236). Cornell University Press. [link]

Channing, A. 2012. A new species of Rain Frog from Namaqualand, South Africa (Anura: Brevicipitidae: Breviceps). Zootaxa 3381, 62–68. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group & South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG). 2017. Breviceps branchi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T19520513A19520659. Accessed in November 2023.

Nielsen, S. V. (2016). The biotic effects of tertiary geoclimatic change in the southern hemisphere. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Mississippi] eGrove

Nielsen, S. V., Daniels, S. R., Conradie, W., Heinicke, M. P., and Noonan, B. P. (2018). Multilocus phylogenetics in a widespread African anuran lineage (Brevicipitidae: Breviceps) reveals patterns of diversity reflecting geoclimatic change. Journal of Biogeography 45(9), 2067–2079. [link]

Originally submitted by: Sophie dela Cruz (2024-01-30)
Description by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2024-01-30)
Distribution by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2024-01-30)
Life history by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2024-01-30)
Larva by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2024-01-30)
Trends and threats by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2024-01-30)
Comments by: Sophie dela Cruz (updated 2024-01-30)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2024-01-30)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2024 Breviceps branchi: Branch's Rain Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 21, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Jul 2024.

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