The advertisement call of Peltophryne florentinoi, an endemic toad from Zapata Swamp, Matanzas, Cuba, is described in terms of temporal properties and dominant frequency. A comparison with the advertisement calls produced by the other three species of large toads in Cuba (P. peltocephala, P. fustiger and P. taladai) is also provided. Like other large toads from Cuba, P. florentinoi produces advertisement calls with long duration (> 10 s), low dominant frequency (< 1 kHz), and a series of complex pulses that are composed of two to five sub-pulses. All temporal features of the P. florentinoi call are significantly different from P. fustiger calls: number of pulses, pulse duration, and pulse rate separates it from P. peltocephala. P. florentinoi differs from P. taladai in call duration, number of pulses, and pulse rate. The occurrence of different types of complex pulses differed in all species studied. Typically, P. florentinoi pulses contain three sub-pulses, P. taladai four, and P. fustiger and P. peltocephala contain two sub-pulses. The dominant frequency of the advertisement call of P. florentinoi did not differ from the other species' calls. Call duration and pulse rate are the most useful acoustic properties to distinguish P. florentinoi advertisement calls from those of the other three large Cuban toads.
Amphibians vary in the degree of pre-metamorphic developmental plasticity in response to risk of predation. Changes in hatching time and development rate can increase egg or tadpole survival respectively by shortening the duration of the more vulnerable stages. The intensity of predator induced developmental response and its direction, i.e. delayed, accelerated, or none, varies considerably between amphibian and predator species. We surveyed freshly deposited clutches of the European common frog Rana temporaria in a population in Braunschweig, Germany and found that 62% (N = 20) of the clutches contained planarians (Schmidtea nova), with an average of 3.94 ± 0.79 and a maximum of 13 planarians per clutch. A laboratory predation experiment confirmed that this planaria preys on R. temporaria eggs and early embryos. We further exposed freshly laid egg masses to either free, caged, or no planarians treatments using floating containers within a breeding pond where the two species co-occur. After 10 days exposure, embryos showed developmental stages 14-25 along the Gosner scale with statistically significant positive effects of both predator treatments. The observed effect was rather slight as predator-exposed individuals showed an increase by a single Gosner stage relative to those raised without planarians. The detected trend suggests that direct and indirect cues from flatworms, rarely considered as anuran predators, might induce a developmental response in R. temporaria early developmental stages.
The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is responsible for population declines and extinctions of amphibians worldwide. The distribution and prevalence of Bd in Cuba has remained unknown to date, with only a single report on its presence. We collected 182 samples from wild anuran populations across 21 species and 16 localities and tested for the presence of Bd using qPCRs. Only six Bd positive samples from four species were detected in three very close localities in Central Cuba. Bd prevalence was of 10-20% in the positive localities, and the island-wide prevalence was only 3.2%. These results indicate that Bd occurrence in Cuba might be concentrated in or even restricted to the central Guamuhaya Massif and call for increased conservation and monitoring efforts in these mountains along with additional sampling in areas and species not covered in this study.
A precise knowledge of the spatial distribution of taxa is essential for decision-making processes in land management and biodiversity conservation, both for present and under future global change scenarios. This is a key base for several scientific disciplines (e.g. macro-ecology, biogeography, evolutionary biology, spatial planning, or environmental impact assessment) that rely on species distribution maps. An atlas summarizing the distribution of European amphibians and reptiles with 50 × 50 km resolution maps based on ca. 85 000 grid records was published by the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH) in 1997. Since then, more detailed species distribution maps covering large parts of Europe became available, while taxonomic progress has led to a plethora of taxonomic changes including new species descriptions. To account for these progresses, we compiled information from different data sources: published in books and websites, ongoing national atlases, personal data kindly provided to the SEH, the 1997 European Atlas, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Databases were homogenised, deleting all information except species names and coordinates, projected to the same coordinate system (WGS84) and transformed into a 50 × 50 km grid. The newly compiled database comprises more than 384 000 grid and locality records distributed across 40 countries. We calculated species richness maps as well as maps of Corrected Weighted Endemism and defined species distribution types (i.e. groups of species with similar distribution patterns) by hierarchical cluster analysis using Jaccard’s index as association measure. Our analysis serves as a preliminary step towards an interactive, dynamic and online distributed database system (NA2RE system) of the current spatial distribution of European amphibians and reptiles. The NA2RE system will serve as well to monitor potential temporal changes in their distributions. Grid maps of all species are made available along with this paper as a tool for decision-making and conservation-related studies and actions. We also identify taxonomic and geographic gaps of knowledge that need to be filled, and we highlight the need to add temporal and altitudinal data for all records, to allow tracking potential species distribution changes as well as detailed modelling of the impacts of land use and climate change on European amphibians and reptiles.