Phrynobatrachus pintoi Hillers, Zimkus, and Rödel, 2008
Original Published Description:
Puddle Frog (English)
Phrynobatrachus pintoi is a small species of puddle frog from a gallery forest in north-western Guinea. Members of this genus are identified by the presence of a midtarsal tubercle, elongate inner metatarsal tubercle, and outer metatarsal tubercle. P. pintoi exhibits a combination of unique morphological characters and a distinctive color pattern, including: compact, oval body, short snout, warty dorsum and eyelid, three pairs of large symmetric black spots on throat and breast, black spots on belly, more than one black bar on thighs and lower leg, finger and toe tips not expanded, and rudimentary web on foot.
Phrynobatrachus pintoi is only known from the type locality, a gallery forest in the Boulléré / Sangaredi area of north-western Guinea.
The species is named in honor of Mr. Sidy Mohamed Diawara, known as Pinto, who was a team-member of the NGO “Guinée Ecologie” and was involved in several Rapid Assessment Programs (Hillers et al., 2006). His work in the Boké region was his last before he died in September, 2006. He contributed greatly to successful field research and nature conservation in Guinea.
P. pintoi is a small, compact puddle frog, characterized by a warty dorsum and eyelids (although no eyelid cornicle is present), rudimentary webbing, and a distinctive color pattern, including large symmetric dark spots on white throat and breast and smaller, non-symmetrical spots on the belly.
The holotype, a sub-adult, measures 10.19 mm and is the only specimen.
P. pintoi has a oval, compact body shape, rounded snout, indistinct canthus rostralis, straight to slightly concave loreal region, indistinct tympanum that is much smaller than diameter of eye, and nostril closer to the snout than eye. The femur is slightly shorter than tibio-fibulare. The hand has large and oval palmar and thenar tubercle, and small round subarticular tubercles are present on the fingers. Palmar webbing is absent, and only rudiments of webbing are present on toe bases. Neither toe nor finger tips expanded to discs. The dorsum skin is grainy with warts present on the back and eyelids, and a larger pointed wart in posterior corner of eyelid, resembling eyelid cornicle of various other small Phrynobatrachus species but is less distinct. Small whitish warts are present between the posterior corner of the eye and forearm bases. Two symmetrical pairs of dorsal warts are especially pronounced, and comma-shaped warts are present directly posterior to these symmetrical pairs. Smaller warts are also present on the neck, back and hind legs. The skin of throat is corrugated, but otherwise, ventral skin is smooth.
The dorsum is brown with indistinct darker bars on upper lip. Unpaired roundish spots are present between the posterior eyelids. Dark bordered spots are irregularly spread on the posterior portion of back. A pair of large, symmetrical, black-bordered spots is present between base of hind legs. Flanks have a dark blotch originating dorsal to base of forelimbs, extending ventrally to the middle of body. Dark spots are present in the groin area, just extending to back. The lower arm has one black bar, and thighs and lower leg have three black bars each. The vent is bordered black. Outer parts of thighs have a clear longitudinal band, bordered black posterior ventrally. Throat is white, and the mandible has eight black spots. The throat and breast have with three symmetric pairs of large blackish spots, increasing in size posteriorly. The belly has eight irregularly spread blackish spots. Ventral thighs are white with blackish spots with the posterior part near the vent speckled with brown spots. Ventral portions of the lower leg are whitish, bordered by dorsal black bars.
Morphologically P. pintoi is most similar to a variety of other small West African Phrynobatrachus species, i.e. P. annulatus, P. calcaratus, P. cornutus, P. ghanensis, P. guineensis, P. phyllophilus, P. taiensis, and P. villiersi. Presence of an eyelid cornicle differentiates P. annulatus, P. calcaratus, P. cornutus, P. villiersi, and P. taiensis differ from P. pintoi. P. annulatus, P. calcaratus, and P. taiensis also differ in ventral coloration (see Perret 1988). P. cornutus usually has an almost uniform dark (males) or white throat with black bars on the mandible (females, for an exception see MHNG1031.14 in Fig. 4, Perret 1988), while P. villiersi has a venter with a blackish, reticulated pattern on clear blue ground. P. pintoi differs from P. guineensis and P. phyllophilus by its almost absent webbing and the lack of expanded toe and finger tips. P. guineensis has similar warts on the eyelids and on the back as P. pintoi, but always possess bright yellow markings in the groin area, whereas this region is black P. pintoi. P. phyllophilus has almost always only one dark bar on thighs and lower leg, P. pintoi has three. P. ghanensis is similar to P. pintoi in body shape, warty eyelids and ventral coloration but differs by better developed webbing and very well developed discs on toes. Small differences in color pattern are black bars on the upper lip that are very distinct in P. ghanensis (Fig. 4 in Assemian et al. 2006). The black ventral spots of the latter species often have a clearer center or are less distinctly delimited (Schiøtz 1964; Perret 1988) than in P. pintoi. P. brongersmai differs from the new species by having small but distinct discs on toes that are half webbed, a presumably larger size (SVL: 21–27 mm), four dorsal warts that form an X-shaped pattern and brown stippling on the gular and pectoral regions (Parker 1936); whereas P. pintoi has no discs, almost no webbing, differently shaped dorsal warts and distinct black blotches on the throat (Hillers et al., 2008).
Habitat and Ecology
This gallery forest where the holotype was collected was situated in a small depression surrounded by savanna habitat. In the area where P. pintoi was found, the forest was approximately 150 m wide. The edges were dominated by shrubs, while there were a small number of larger trees in the central section, with a more important canopy and open shrub stratum. P. pintoi was found in the leaf litter of this central area, close to the river. The soil was partly sandy with some stones and mainly covered with leaf litter. With the exception of the gallery forests, the general landscape in the Boulléré / Sangaradi area was dominated by savanna habitats on bauxite outcrops.
This species is only known from the holotype.
Evolution and Systematics
Phrynobatrachus pintoi differed between 7-16% in the 560 investigated base pairs of the 16S rRNA gene from 17 West African and Central African species of the genus Phrynobatrachus (Hillers et al., 2008). Genetically the new species is closest to P. fraterculus, P. cornutus, and P. gutturosus.
IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status
The IUCN Red List (2009) categorizes this species as Data Deficient since it has only recently been described, and there is still very little information on its extent of occurrence, status and ecological requirements (Hillers, 2009).
The gallery forest and savanna habitats are highly disturbed due to a number of settlements and agricultural encroachment (Hillers et al. 2008); the latter is mostly comprised of shifting agriculture, with a few small-holder exceptions (Hillers, 2009). In addition, there is bauxite mining in the region, so the combined effect of these threat factors is likely to affect the species' area of occurrence (Hillers, 2009).