Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The Mallorcan midwife toad has an unusual breeding system. Intense competition for males occurs amongst females, who grapple with each other over mates (3). In common with other members of this unusual genus, males carry the developing eggs until the tadpoles hatch (3). Males carrying eggs are seen in May and June, with between 7 and 12 eggs wrapped around their ankles in strings (3). The first tadpoles hatch in May, measuring around 18 mm in length. Tadpoles metamorphose any time from late June to September and some may even over-winter as tadpoles and metamorphose the following summer (6). Males produce a high-pitched 'pi...pi...pi' call, which attracts females and may help to stimulate the maturation of eggs by the female (2); females also vocalise to advertise when they are receptive (3). Adults are generally active at night and they do not hibernate (3).
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Description

This unusual toad gains its name from the fact that males care for the developing eggs (2). Adults have a large head and long legs in relation to the body, the eyes are large and golden with a narrow vertical pupil (2). The skin is usually golden-brown in colour with a number of darker brown, green or black blotches, whilst the underparts are off-white (6). There is often a black triangle between the eyes. Males and females are difficult to distinguish from their appearance (2).
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Comprehensive Description

Description

Small frog with relatively large head. Males attain a snout-vent length of up to 34,7mm, whereas females grow up to 38 mm. The eyes are large and have a vertical slit-shaped pupil. Limbs, fingers and toes are relatively long. There are three metacarpal tubercles. The skin is fairly smooth and shiny. Some larger warts are present along the sides of the back. The coloration is very variable. Usually there are dark green to black spots of variable size and shape on a golden-greenish background. Not seldom there is a black triangle present on the head behind the eyes. The underside is white. There is no clear sexual dimorphism. (Noellert and Noellert 1992).

  • Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.
  • Stumpel-Rieks, S. E. (1992). Nomina Herpetofaunae Europaeae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden.
  • Buley, K.R. and Garcia, G. (1997). ''The recovery programme for the Mallorcan midwife toad Alytes muletensis: An update.'' Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trusts, (33), 80-90.
  • Seigel, R. A. and Dodd, C.K., Jr. (2001). ''Translocations of amphibians: proven management method or experimental technique?'' Conservation Biology, 16(2), 552-554.
  • Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is restricted to the Sierra Tramuntana of northern Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. The present altitudinal range is from 10-850 m asl. Its area of occupancy is less than 10km², but slowly increasing as a result of intensive conservation action.
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Distribution and Habitat

Alytes muletensis is endemic to Mallorca a small island off the eastern coast of Spain. The species was first described from fossils in the upper pleistocene as Baleaphryne muletensis Sanchiz and Adrover, 1977. It was believed to have gone extinct following the colonization of the island by man about 4000BC, until larvae and young frogs were found in the inaccessible limestone gorges of the Serra de Tramuntana (Buley and Garcia 1997). The species is found in only ten brooks (torrentes) in the Serra de Tramuntana. The area receives an annual rainfall of 1000 to 2000mm. Water temperatures range from 9ºC to 22ºC. The frogs hide in crevices and under stones in groups of up to 5 individuals.

  • Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.
  • Stumpel-Rieks, S. E. (1992). Nomina Herpetofaunae Europaeae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden.
  • Buley, K.R. and Garcia, G. (1997). ''The recovery programme for the Mallorcan midwife toad Alytes muletensis: An update.'' Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trusts, (33), 80-90.
  • Seigel, R. A. and Dodd, C.K., Jr. (2001). ''Translocations of amphibians: proven management method or experimental technique?'' Conservation Biology, 16(2), 552-554.
  • Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
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Range

Endemic to Mallorca, an island off the east coast of Spain (2), this toad is currently found in gorges (4) in the Sierra de Tramuntana Mountains (2). The distribution was once considerably larger than at present; recent surveys estimate there may now be as few as 500 breeding pairs remaining (4).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is currently found only in small streams deeply carved into limestone mountains. The presence of the species is positively associated with steep slopes. Breeding takes place in the small streams that persist as pools in summer. A few populations occur by man-made water sources (cattle troughs, containers, rain tanks etc.) in open mountainous country; these are within the river basins of nearby canyon-living populations. Animals are generally found in rock crevices and under stones. This species does not tolerate serious habitat degradation. The distribution of predators on the species is negatively associated with elevation, and reproductive success is positively associated with elevation.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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This toad inhabits inaccessible brooks in limestone gorges and hides under stones and in crevices (2).
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Eggs adhere in and out of water: midwife toad
 

The eggs of the midwife toad stick to the male toad's legs in and out of water via sticky egg strings.

   
  "After the pair lays and fertilizes strings of twenty to sixty eggs, the father thrusts his legs through the egg mass. The sticky egg strings adhere to him, and he stumbles around for the next few weeks with the eggs entwined around his thighs and waist. Periodically he dips into shallow water, ensuring the eggs don't shrivel up and die. When the tadpoles are nearly ready to hatch, they flip about in their egg capsules. The wriggling of the twenty to sixty embryos likely tickles the male's body and stimulates him to hop to a pond." (Crump 2005:53)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Crump, M. 2005. Headless Males Make Great Lovers & Other Unusual Natural Histories. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 199 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Alytes muletensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
D2

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2009

Assessor/s
Joan Mayol Serra, Richard Griffiths, Jaime Bosch, Trevor Beebee, Benedikt Schmidt, Miguel Tejedo, Miguel Lizana, Iñigo Martínez-Solano, Alfredo Salvador, Mario García-París, Ernesto Recuero Gil, Jan Willem Arntzen

Reviewer/s
Cox, N. and Temple, H.J. (Global Amphibian Assessment)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Vulnerable because it is known from fewer than five locations, and its Area of Occupancy is less than 20 km2, and population declines are plausible without ongoing intensive conservation efforts. The pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been detected in reintroduced captive-bred populations, and it is plausible that severe population declines could take place in the future.

History
  • 2004
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU D2) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1).
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Population

Population
The population is approximately 500-1,500 adult pairs (Gasc et al. 1997; Arnold 2003). There are approximately 25, mostly isolated, populations. The total population is slowly increasing following coordinated recovery efforts, following a long period of decline and near extinction. The current increase, which probably started around the time that the first re-introductions were made in 1989, has been maintained even during years of drought, notably in 1999-2000. The population trend in this species is monitored through annual tadpole counts, the counts for 2004 (over 30,000 tadpoles) being the highest on record. The increase in numbers in established populations is not dependent upon continued re-introductions. However, it is unlikely that new populations would be established without re-introductions.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Mating behaviour is similar to other Alytesspecies. Male call sounds like a high melodic "pi..pi..pi..". Like in the rest of the genus Alytes, the males of this species carry the eggs in strings around their ankles until the tadpoles hatch. Males bearing eggs are found mostly in May and June. The eggs in this species are larger than those of other Alytes, but smaller in number. The eggs measure 5.4 to 7mm in diameter and a clutch contains 7 to 12 eggs. The first larvae hatch in the beginning of May. Total length upon hatching is 18mm, and the larvae grow up to 76mm in a few weeks. Metamorphosis occurs mostly in June. There is no hibernation period. These frogs are mostly active at night (Noellert and Noellert 1992).

  • Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.
  • Stumpel-Rieks, S. E. (1992). Nomina Herpetofaunae Europaeae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden.
  • Buley, K.R. and Garcia, G. (1997). ''The recovery programme for the Mallorcan midwife toad Alytes muletensis: An update.'' Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trusts, (33), 80-90.
  • Seigel, R. A. and Dodd, C.K., Jr. (2001). ''Translocations of amphibians: proven management method or experimental technique?'' Conservation Biology, 16(2), 552-554.
  • Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threats are predation by the introduced Viperine Snake (Natrix maura), and competition for space with Perez's Frog (Rana perezi). Development of tourism and human settlements, specifically the increased need for water resources (including damming and canalization of streams), is an additional threat. The threats are not likely to decrease, and so the current recovery programme needs to be continued more or less indefinitely. One isolated re-introduced population was impacted by an unidentified non-fungal disease in 2002 which killed some tadpoles. This disease did not recur in 2003 and 2004. Chytridiomycosis has been identified in the wild population, with the source of this chytrid infection traced to reintroduced captive-bred animals from Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, UK (Walker et al. 2008).
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Alytes muletensis is among the most important species in Europe from a conservation viewpoint. The small occupied area, the low number of adults (between 500 and 1500 pairs in all, according to various estimates) and the evidence of a formerly much larger range - all bring this species to the highest rank in the list of animals deserving special protective measures. In fact, state and regional laws have forbidden the capture, keeping or killing of this species since 1980. Listed on the Red Data Book of Spanish Vertebrates as endangered, the species' rarity has also been acknowledged by all international conservation agreements signed by Spain. The habitat was put forward as a Biogenetic Reserve to the council of Europe, and the species has been subject to two recovery programs, one of them involving breeding of captive animals. In spite of that, the future of the species looks bleak. Dangers are too high, and populations too scarce and small to withstand a serious threat. So far, animals introduced by man have been the main enemies of the toad. Especially dangerous is the snake Natrix maura, an efficient predator of adults and tadpoles, introduced by man in Roman times. Competition for food with Rana perezi could be another factor of the past range decrease. Today, Alytes muletensis lives only in places which both these species, the snake and the frog, cannot reach. The heavy tourism in Mallorca and the increase of urban population have resulted in a strong need for water, to be taken from the only available place on the island, the mountains of the north. There are already proposals to dam some of the rivers where Alytes muletensis lives, and tap the water for urban needs. It may be that breeding in captivity, which has already allowed repopulating on some sites, will become, in the long term, the only hope for survival of the species (Paris 1997). Translocation of Alytes muletensis have had some measure of sucess (Seigel, 2001)

  • Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.
  • Stumpel-Rieks, S. E. (1992). Nomina Herpetofaunae Europaeae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden.
  • Buley, K.R. and Garcia, G. (1997). ''The recovery programme for the Mallorcan midwife toad Alytes muletensis: An update.'' Dodo: Journal of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trusts, (33), 80-90.
  • Seigel, R. A. and Dodd, C.K., Jr. (2001). ''Translocations of amphibians: proven management method or experimental technique?'' Conservation Biology, 16(2), 552-554.
  • Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
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This species was identified from fossils in the 1970s and was believed to have become extinct 2000 years ago, incredibly however, surviving populations were discovered in 1980 (3). Since then this toad has decreased markedly in abundance and range. The decline in the Mallorcan midwife toad was the result of the introduction to the island of competitors and predators such as the viperine snake (Natrix maura), which predates on both adult toads and tadpoles, and the green frog (Rana perezi) (4) that competes for food (2). Increased demands for water due to the large number of tourists visiting the island places pressure on mountain water resources, and a number of schemes have proposed to dam the rivers in which this toad lives. A further threat arises from the small size of the remaining population, which places the species at risk of extinction from chance catastrophic events (2).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is protected by sub-national and national legislation. It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, on Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive, and on the national and sub-national Red Data Books. It is present in the protected areas of the Tramuntana mountains. The Balearic Government and Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust have undertaken captive-breeding, re-introduction and other conservation initiatives. At least 10 populations have been successfully reintroduced. Re-introductions of animals from the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust stopped in 2002, but a new captive-breeding facility now exists on Mallorca, and re-introductions are expected to resume. However, as a result of the recent discovery of disease, a recommendation was made in 2004 to the Balearic Government to halt the re-introduction programme. A new recovery programme for the species is now being developed. There is a need to closely monitor populations of this species, especially with regard to the recent detection of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in introduced animals (Walker et al. 2008). A systematic programme is in place to remove Natrix maura from the range of the species.
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Conservation

A conservation project is underway, with cooperation between the Mallorcan Consellaria de Medi Ambient, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at Kent University and the Barcelona Zoo (5) (6). The species breeds well in captivity and reintroductions have been taking place since 1988, with several breeding populations already successfully established as a result (4). Annual surveys are taking place and a reserve has been proposed to help protect the species (4). The number of suitable sites for reintroduction is limited, so work is currently focusing on the creation of new pools (4). With such concerted conservation efforts, the future of this fascinating species may well be secured, at least for the present.
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Wikipedia

Majorcan midwife toad

The Majorcan midwife toad (also Mallorcan midwife toad or ferreret in Balearic Catalan and Spanish) is a frog in the family Alytidae (formerly Discoglossidae). It is endemic to the Balearic Island of Majorca in the Mediterranean Sea. An example of Lazarus taxon, the species was first described from fossil remains in 1977, but living animals were discovered in 1979.

The species, considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN, is currently restricted to isolated mountain rivers in the island's Serra de Tramuntana and has an estimated population of 500 breeding pairs in the wild. It does exist and reproduce easily in captivity, however, like in the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey.[citation needed] The Majorcan midwife toad is thought to have disappeared from most of the island as a result of the introduction of competitors and predators from the mainland in ancient times.[who?] Reintroduction of the species in additional areas has taken place since 1988, with many new breeding populations now well established.[citation needed]

Characteristics[edit]

Like all midwife toads, the male of the species always carries the developing eggs during the months of May and June. Generally the head and legs are large in comparison to the rest of the body. Unusually, the female of the species competes for the male, even grappling against other individuals in order to secure a mate. Both male and female frogs use a series a noises in order to attract a mate during courtship. Comparatively the female is larger than the male (Male: 34.7 mm, Female: 38mm).

Distribution[edit]

The species is endemic to Majorca, and is found only in the mountainous regions and gorges of the Serra de Tramuntana. In this area, the species inhabits streams in limestone caverns, where they hide under boulders and stones.

Status[edit]

The Majorcan midwife toad was first discovered in 1977 and was described as Baleaphryne muletensis. Only later the toad was accounted as a midwife toad. This was due to the fact that the species was thought extinct and was described from the fossil record. Later the species was 'rediscovered' in 1979 when froglets and young frogs were discovered. Currently the species is protected as a Majorcan endemic species, and breeding programs have been started to prevent the extinction of this species. The number of wild animals is estimated at around 300 to 700 breeding pairs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Serra, J.M et al. (2012). "Alytes muletensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 

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