Amietophrynus mauritanicus (Schlegel, 1841)
Original Published Description:
Pantherine Toad (English), Moroccan Toad (English), Berber Toad (English), Morrish Toad (English)
This large anuran manifests dorsal spot patterns that are brown, olive or orange-brown. Its distribution covers a wide area of near coastal northern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia that may extend over 150 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean or Atlantic. While not classified as threatened, its habitat is in decline, due to the burgeoning human population of the region over the last century, with corresponding over-extraction of surface waters and conversion of considerable habitat to agriculture.
Amietophrynus mauritanicus is found across a large swath of coastal and near coastal northwest Africa, prominently within the Mediterranean woodlands and scrub ecoregion (World Wildlife Fund & Hogan, 2007). This anuran exhibits a fragmented distribution, i.e. a small area of occupancy within the wide geographic extent of occurrence, in Morocco, northern Algeria, northern Tunisia and the North African Spanish territories of Melilla and Ceuta. An introduced population is present on mainland Spain in proximity to the Parque Natural los Alcornocales. This anuran is not confirmed from the Western Sahara, although it may occur in the extreme north (Geniez et al. 2000). However, isolated populations from older records in the Air region of northern Niger and northern Mali as well as the Adrar Mountains of Mauritania and Hoggar of Algeria likely refer to Bufo xeros (Salvador, 1996).
The taxon has previously been classified as Bufo mauritanicus, but this name is now considered a synonym.
A. mauritanicus exhibits large dorsal brown patches (sometimes grading to olive, reddish brown or orange) bordered with black coloration. A tarsal fold is evident, and the kidney-shaped paratoid glands are roughly parallel. The tympanum is sizable, and interorbital area is concave. The distal subarticular tubercle on toe IV is doubled (Salvador, 1996).
This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with mature adult females attaining a snout vent length of 150 millimeters, and mature males attaining a snout vent length of about 132 millimeters. At the time of metamorphosis individuals measure approximately ten to twelve millimeters (Salvador, 1996).
Habitat and Ecology
A. mauritanicus inhabits a gamut of habitat types, and is found widely across a large swath of northwest Africa, prominently within the Mediterranean woodlands and scrub ecoregion (World Wildlife Fund & Hogan, 2007). The species altitude ranges from around sea level up to 2650 meters above mean sea level, with the high point in the Atlas Mountain Ranges (Donaire-Barroso et al. 2009). Specific habitat types range from damp meadows and coastal dunes to stony settings with permanent or ephemeral surface water; it may also be found in some scrub areas, particularly dominated by Chamerops humilis, Olea europaea and Pistacia lentiscus. During daytime heat, this anuran hides under rocks or in underground holes or burrows. In particular, within Morocco, the taxon may be found from sea level to 2650 metres in elevation. Diet is dominated by consumption of coleopterans, but also includes scorpions (Salvador, 1996).
The distribution of A. mauritanicus overlaps with much of the range of anurans Discoglossus scovazzi and Pelobates varaldii (World Wildlife Fund and Hogan, 2007).
Breeding does not necessarliy take place every year throughout the range; for example, in drought years in the pre-Sahara, breeding may not occur. In Morocco, the chief breeding season commences around January, with a secondary peak about April. Sometimes breeding may occur as late as early summer, in the Atlas and Rif Mountain parts of the range (Salvador, 1996).
Ovideposition takes place at night, with 5000 to 10,000 eggs being laid down in four strings. Individual ova are 1.4 to 1.7 millimetres in diameter (Salvador, 1996).
The advertisement call may be heard during the day or night almost any time during the year (Salvador, 1996). However, based upon the onset of the chief breeding season commencing in January, and of the secondary breeding season starting in April, it is reasonable to expect that those months punctuate peaks in call activity.
Some of the early recordings from the Air region of Niger, the Hoggar Mountains and from Mali are now deemed to have been improper logging of Bufo xeros.
IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status
A. mauritanicus is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, by dent of its relatively broad distribution, tolerance of a gamut of habitats, presumed sizable population, and since it is unlikely to be declining in numbers to qualify it for listing in a more threatened category (Donaire-Barroso et al. 2009). The IUCN has asserted the population to be stable, but based upon steady elimination of breeding habitat from pressures of human population expansion in North Africa, the classification as of 2013 would better be described as declining.
According to the IUCN assessment, there are deemed no major threats to this adaptable and widespread anuran; however, habitat destruction and water pollution resulting from development, and mortality through road kill are localized threats to some populations (Donaire-Barroso et al. 2009). Moreover, the recent human population expansion of Morrocco and other North African countries have placed pressure on surface water extraction, leading to significantly reduced breeding locations.
Conservation Actions and Management
A. mauritanicus is found in several protected areas. This frog is not protected by national legislation in the nation of Morocco. (Donaire-Barroso et al. 2009).
- Bufo pantherinus Tschudi, 1838 (synonym)
- Bufo mauritanicus Schlegel, 1841 (synonym)
- Bufo pantherinus Duméril and Bibron, 1841 (synonym)
- "Bufo" mauritanicus Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006 (synonym)
- Amietophrynus mauritanicus Van Bocxlaer, Biju, Loader, and Bossuyt, 2009 (synonym)