We analysed the DNA sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene for 49 specimens of the Western spadefoot toad, Pelobates cultripes, from Spain, and one sample from France, with a focus on populations from Galicia in northwestern Spain. Our results point to a generally low mitochondrial differentiation of the species across its distributional range although some phylogeographic structure was detected. Galician populations from coastal localities, from the A Limia region, and from Monforte appeared to be closely related, whereas the only available sample from the relict Galician population from near O Barco de Valdeorras has the same haplotype as the samples from Burgos, in central Spain.
Age structure and growth in the Moroccan spadefoot toad, Pelobates varaldii were estimated by skeletochronology and reported for the first time for a population living in NW Morocco. Snout vent length and body mass did not significantly differ between the sexes, although females appeared larger and heavier than males. Age ranged 2-7 years in males (mean age±SD: 4.5±1.2, n = 66) and 2-10 years in females (4.7±2.4, n = 20). The difference in age was not significant between the sexes. The modal age was 5 years for males and 3 years for females. The age distributions significantly differed between the sexes. Von Bertalanffy growth curves showed a similar profile between the sexes although growth coefficient was higher in males than in females. Longevity and growth rates of P. varaldii were compared with those of other species of the genus Pelobates.
Prior herpetological surveys in 1996 and 2000 identified 14 species of amphibians and 32 species of reptiles from the Sahamalaza Peninsula. This work increases the total number of amphibian and reptile species known from this area to 20 and 43 respectively. To maximise our chances of species detection, survey effort covered the entire wet season and part of the dry season, and utilised a combination of opportunistic searching, transect searching, pitfall trapping, and acoustic recording. We identified species through an integrative taxonomic approach, combining morphological, bioacoustic and molecular taxonomy. Together, this enabled the detection of cryptic and seasonally inactive species that were missed in the shorter prior surveys that relied on morphological identification alone. The taxonomic identification of amphibians utilised a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene; taxonomic identification of reptiles utilised a fragment of the mitochondrial COI gene, and when necessary, also mitochondrial fragments of the 16S rRNA ND1, ND2, ND4 genes. All sequences were deposited in Genbank and COI sequences were also deposited in the BOLD database to foster taxonomic identification of malagasy reptiles. We report two new taxa: a species of Boophis, since described as B. ankarafensis, and a candidate new species of microhylid (genus: Stumpffia). We document range expansions of Boophis tsilomaro, Cophyla berara, Blaesodactylus ambonihazo beyond their type localities. Along with significant range expansions across a range of taxa, including Blommersia sp. Ca05, Boophys brachychir,Brookesia minima, Ebenavia inunguis, Geckolepis humbloti, Madascincus stumpffi, Pelomedus subrufa and Phelsuma kochi. Forest in the peninsula is under extreme pressure from human exploitation. Unless unsustainable agricultural and pastoral practices encroaching on these habitats halt immediately, both forest and the species that occur there, several of which appear to be local endemics, may be irreversibly lost.
The black-spined toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus, is widespread in South and South-East (SE) Asia, although recent molecular analyses have revealed that it represents a species complex (here called the D. melanostictus complex). Invasive populations of this toad have been detected in Madagascar since, at least, 2014. We here trace the origin of this introduction based on mitochondrial DNA sequences of 340 samples. All 102 specimens from Madagascar have identical sequences pointing to a single introduction event. Their haplotype corresponds to a lineage occurring in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and some locations of eastern Myanmar and northern Malaysia, here named the SE Asian lineage. Within this lineage, specimens from one location in Cambodia and three locations in Vietnam have the same haplotype as found in Madagascar. This includes Ho Chi Minh City, which has a major seaport and might have been the source for the introduction. Species distribution models suggest that the current range of the Madagascan invasive population is within the bioclimatic space occupied by the SE Asian lineage in its native range. The potential invasion zone in Madagascar is narrower than suggested by models from localities representing the full range of the D. melanostictus complex. Thus, an accurate taxonomy is essential for such inferences, but it remains uncertain if the toad might be able to spread beyond the potential suitable range because (1) knowledge on species-delimitation of the complex is insufficient, and (2) the native range in SE Asia might be influenced by historical biogeography or competition.