Tuesday, March 22, 2022

[Herpetology • 2022] Molecular Taxonomic Identification and Species-level Phylogeny of the Narrow-mouthed Frogs of the Genus Rhombophryne (Anura: Microhylidae: Cophylinae) from Madagascar

Rhombophryne spp. 

in Belluardo, Scherz, Santos, Andreone, et Crottini. 

The study of diamond frogs (genus Rhombophryne, endemic to Madagascar) has been historically hampered by the paucity of available specimens, because of their low detectability in the field. Over the last 10 years, 13 new taxa have been described, and 20 named species are currently recognized. Nevertheless, undescribed diversity within the genus is probably large, calling for a revision of the taxonomic identification of published records and an update of the known distribution of each lineage. Here we generate DNA sequences of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene of all specimens available to us, revise the genetic data from public databases, and report all deeply divergent mitochondrial lineages of Rhombophryne identifiable from these data. We also generate a multi-locus dataset (including five mitochondrial and eight nuclear markers; 9844 bp) to infer a species-level phylogenetic hypothesis for the diversification of this genus and revise the distribution of each lineage. We recognize a total of 10 candidate species, two of which are identified here for the first time. The genus Rhombophryne is here proposed to be divided into six main species groups, and phylogenetic relationships among some of them are not fully resolved. These frogs are primarily distributed in northern Madagascar, and most species are known from only few localities. A previous record of this genus from the Tsingy de Bemaraha (western Madagascar) is interpreted as probably due to a mislabelling and should not be considered further unless confirmed by new data. By generating this phylogenetic hypothesis and providing an updated distribution of each lineage, our findings will facilitate future species descriptions, pave the way for evolutionary studies, and provide valuable information for the urgent conservation of diamond frogs.

Keywords: amphibians, candidate species diamond frogs, mitochondrial lineages, northern Madagascar, species-identification, systematics


Francesco Belluardo, Mark D. Scherz, Bárbara Santos, Franco Andreone, Alexandre Antonelli, Frank Glaw, A. Jesus Muñoz-Pajares, Jasmin E. Randrianirina, Achille P. Raselimanana, Miguel Vences and Angelica Crottini. 2022. Molecular Taxonomic Identification and Species-level Phylogeny of the Narrow-mouthed Frogs of the Genus Rhombophryne (Anura: Microhylidae: Cophylinae) from Madagascar. Systematics and Biodiversity. 20(1); 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/14772000.2022.2039320