Amietia wittei (Angel, 1924)
Original Published Description:
Molo Frog (English)
Amietia wittei is found chiefly in the Kenyan central highlands along the Mau Escarpment, in the Aberdare Mountains, on Mount Kenya and within the Charangani Hills. The anuran has also been observed on Mount Meru in northern Tanzania. The Molo Frog is found only in the Kenyan central highlands and northern Tanzania in the East African montane moorlands ecoregion, and slightly lower in elevation in the East African montane forests ecoregion (Hogan, 2013).
Habitat and Ecology
A. wittei is found in montane moorlands and grasslands in the lower elevations of the East African montane moorlands ecoregion and in the upper elevations of the East African montane forests ecoregion (Hogan, 2013). The species habitat is in a climate of extreme temperature and solar insolation variations, with nightly freezes occurring in the moorlands, and extreme heat and sunlight intensity occurring almost every day in this equatorial high altitiude zone (Hogan, 2013). Soils in the moorland portion of the species range are of pronounced acidic characteristic (Hogan, 2013). This terrestrial anuran is associated with freshwater cold streams in montane moorland (Hogan, 2013), grassland (Lötters et al. 2004) and perhaps also forest, Moreover, it has also been found in one town (Lötters et al. 2004). Elevations of occurrence are bracketed between 2080 and 3100 metres (Lötters et al. 2004).
A. wittei is recorded only in the East African montane moorlands and the East African montane forests ecoregion. The following text will review not only true associate anurans to A wittei, but also endemics to the restricted geographic ecoregion of the East African montane moorlands. The Kenya River frog (Phrynobatrachus keniensis) is endemic to the Kenyan portion of the ecoregion, and is an associate within the same range. The Kinangop River Frog (Phrynobatrachus kinangopensis) is also endemic to the Kenyan portion of the ecoregion and thus also is not a true associate; in particular it is found only in the Mount Kenya and Aberdare National Parks at elevations around 3000 metres. The Marsabit Clawed Frog (Xenopus borealis) is a near endemic anuran associate, which is also found in the upper elevations of the East African montane forests ecoregion. The Tigoni Reed Frog (Hyperolius cystocandicans) is a Vulnerable near endemic associate, found only in Kenya in this ecoregion and the adjacent East African montane forests. Other associate amphibians present in the East African montane moorlands ecoregion include the Subharan Toad (Amietophrynus xeros), Cape River Frog (Amietia fuscigula), Senegal Running Frog (Kassina senegalensis), Common Reed Frog (Hyperolius viridiflavus), and Keith's Toad (Amietophrynus kerinyagae) (Hogan, 2013).
A. wittei breeds in cold streams and lentic pools at the high altitudes of the East African montane moorlands. Tadpoles generally are found among submerged plants by day, or sometimes basking upon mud or sand substrates in shallow water (Wasonga and Channing, 2007).
As with all tadpoles of the Amietia genus, tadpoles of A. wittei exhibit long low tails and multiple labial tooth rows (Wasonga & Channing, 2007). A single tadpole individual, at Gosner stage 39, was measured at 70.9 millimetres, with the head presenting as bluntly rounded. The large eyes are positioned dorsolaterally. The oral disc manifests a double row of rounded marginal papillae, with the rostral gap in the papillae spanning practically the entire labium. Labial teeth present as compound, with tips rounded. Both the lower and upper jaw sheaths exhibit pigmentation over half of their height, and each jaw sheath is finely serrated (Wasonga and Channing, 2007).
As of 2004 the IUCN noted no known threats to this species (Lötters et al. 2004); however, it is more likely that this anuran is under pressure from increased conversion of habitat to smallholder agricultural uses, livestock grazing pressures and deforestation, which activities have been documented in the ecoregions of species occurrence (Hogan, 2013).
Conservation Actions and Management
A. wittei occurs in Aberdare National Park and Mount Kenya National Park in Kenya, as well as in Arusha National Park in Tanzania (Lötters et al. 2004). More recently, A. wittei tadpoles have been recorded in Mount Elgon National Park in Kenya at 2209 metres in elevation within the East African montane forests ecoregion (Wasonga and Channing; Hogan, 2013).
- Phrynobatrachus Wittei Angel, 1924 (synonym)
- Rana aberdariensis Angel, 1925 (synonym)
- Rana (Rana) aberdariensis — De Witte, 1930 (synonym)
- Rana (Rana) wittei — Guibé, 1950 "1948" (synonym)
- Rana (Afrana) wittei — Dubois, 1992 (synonym)
- Afrana wittei — Visser and Channing, 1997 (synonym)
- Amietia wittei — Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006 (synonym)