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Taxonomy, systematics, and ecology of selected amphibian taxa from Rwanda

  • The diversity within amphibian communities in cultivated areas in Rwanda and within two selected, taxonomically challenging groups, the genera Ptychadena and Hyperolius, were investigated in this thesis. The amphibian community of an agricultural wetland near Butare in southern Rwanda comprised 15 anuran species. Rarefaction and jackknife analyses corroborated that the complete current species richness of the assemblage had been recorded, and the results of acoustic niche analysis suggested species saturation of the community. Surveys at many other Rwandan localities showed that the species recorded in Butare are widespread in cultivated and pristine wetlands. The species were readily distinguishable using morphological, bioacoustic, and molecular (DNA barcoding) features, but only eight of the 15 species could be assigned unambiguously to nominal species. The remaining represented undescribed or currently unrecognized taxa, including three species of Hyperolius, two Phrynobatrachus species, one Ptychadena species, and one species of Amietia. The diversity of the Ridged Frogs in Rwanda was investigated in two studies (Chapters III and IV). Three species of Ptychadena were recorded in wetlands in the catchment of the Nile. They can be distinguished by morphological characters (morphometrics and qualitative features) as well as by their advertisement calls and genetics. The Rwandan species of the P. mascareniensis group was shown to differ from the topotypic population as well as from other genetic lineages in sub-Saharan Africa and an old available name, P. nilotica, was resurrected from synonymy for this lineage. Two further Ptychadena species were identified among voucher specimens from Rwanda deposited in the collection of the RMCA, P. chrysogaster and P. uzungwensis. Morphologically they can be unambiguously distinguished from each other and the three other Rwandan species. A key based on qualitative morphological characters was developed, which allows unequivocal identification of specimens of all species that have been recorded from Rwanda. DNA was isolated from a Rwandan voucher specimen of P. chrysogaster, and the genetic analysis corroborated the species" distinct status. A species of Hyperolius collected in the Nyungwe National Park was compared to all other Rwandan species of the genus and to morphologically or genetically similar species from neighbouring countries. Its distinct taxonomic status was justified by morphological, bioacoustic, and molecular evidence and it was described as a new species, H. jackie. A species of the H. nasutus group collected at agricultural sites in Rwanda was described as a new species in the course of a revision of the species of the Hyperolius nasutus group. The group was shown to consist of 15 distinct species which can be distinguished from each other genetically, bioacoustically, and morphologically. The aerial performance, i.e. parachuting, of the Disc-fingered Reed Frog, Hyperolius discodactylus, was described. It represents a novel observation of a behaviour that has been known from a number of Southeast Asian and Neotropical frog species. Parachuting frogs, including H. discodactylus, exhibit certain morphological characteristics and, while airborne, assume a distinct posture which is best-suited for maneuvering in the air. Another study on the species addressed the validity of the taxon H. alticola which had been considered either a synonym of H. discodactylus or a distinct species. Type material of both taxa was re-examined and the status of H. alticola reassessed using morphological data from historic and new collections, call recordings, and molecular data from animals collected on recent expeditions. A northern and a southern genetic clade were identified, a divide that is weakly supported by diverging morphology of the vouchers from the respective localities. No distinction in advertisement call features could be recovered to support this split and both genetic and morphological differences between the two geographic clades are marginal and not always congruent and more likely reflect population-level variation. Therefore it was concluded that H. alticola is not a valid taxon and should be treated as a synonym of H. discodactylus.

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Author:Jonas Maximilian Dehling
Advisor:Ulrich Sinsch
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2014/07/16
Date of publication:2023/02/09
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz, Fachbereich 3
Date of final exam:2014/07/09
Release Date:2023/02/09
Number of pages:V, 259 Seiten
Institutes:Fachbereich 3 / Institut für Integrierte Naturwissenschaften / Institut für Integrierte Naturwissenschaften, Abt. Biologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG