Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Very little is known about Hyperolius discodactylus or indeed about most of the species within the genus. In the wet season the reed frogs tend to gather near water, preferably smaller temporary water bodies, where they breed. However, very little is known of their whereabouts outside the breeding season (6). Most, if not all, Hyperolius species from forest habitats deposit eggs in a gelatinous mass on vegetation above water, while some savanna-living species lay their eggs aquatically (5) (6).
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Description

Hyperolius discodactylus is one of at least nine Hyperolius species endemic to the Albertine Rift, one of the richest sites for biodiversity in Africa (1) (3). In common with many species within this genus, it has moderately long-limbs and large toe pads that aid its largely arboreal lifestyle (4) (5). The smooth back of this species varies in colour between brown and orange and is sometimes dotted with diffuse dark spots. Underneath it is bright orange except for the male vocal sac which is bright green (2). The call of male Hyperolius discodactylus is a fairly long buzzing (2).
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Comprehensive Description

Description

A large Hyperolius (males 29-33 mm) from montane forests in central Africa. Dorsum uniform brownish to orange, uniform or with diffuse dark spots. A dark canthal line. Vocal sac in calling males bright green. Ventrum bright orange. Pupil horizontal (Schiøtz 1999).

Hyperolius discodactylus was split from a similar species, Hyperolius alticola. When they were differentiated as separate species, it was for a myriad of reasons, on of them being differences in species among morphological traits such as the interorbital space, tympanum, toe webbing, tibia length, subarticular tubercle, and skin of belly. For the space between its eyes, the difference is in width were that H. discodactylus is two times the width of the top eyelid while H. alticola is 1.5 times as wide as the top eyelid. The tympanum on H. alticola is smaller and free verses hidden under a thin layer of skin on H. discodactylus. The bellies of these species differ in that H. discodactylus has clear postpectoral folds while H. alticola does not. The same is seen with the temporofemoral fold between species. The other morphological differences are in length with slight noticeable variation (Liedtke et al. 2014).

In preservative (ethanol): This species dorsum and posterior area below the ribs of this species are a brownish white coloration with darker peppered pigmentation forming a canthal line along its body. Its ventral coloration is a uniform pale yellow (Liedtke et al. 2014).

The specimens described here were very similar to H. frontalis collected nearby (Schiøtz 1999). Initially they were described as H. alticola, but H. discodactylus has priority as the name (Schiøtz 1999; Frost 2007). However, the recent rediscovery of H. alticola has led to the split of the two species again (Liedtke et al. 2014).

The two species of reed frogs were first discovered by Ernst Ahl in 1931. He found these species inhibiting the forests of the Albertine Rift in Eastern Africa. The two were synonymized by Raymond Green two decades later but a conclusive decision on this taxonomy was never made because the type material for H. alticola was lost. After the material was recently rediscovered, the validity of Laurent’s synonymy has been under reassessment. Genetic findings suggest a Northern and Southern clade and diverging morphologies also suggest a split between species. Though genetic and morphological differences are marginal, they reflect population level variation thus further supporting the continuation of H. discodactylus and the discontinuation of H. alticola is a valid taxon (Liedtke et al. 2014).

The majority of this account was taken from "Treefrogs of Africa" by Arne Schiøtz with kind permission from Edition Chimaira publishers, Frankfurt am Main.

The species authority is: Ahl, E. (1931b) Zur Systematik der afrikanischen Artes der Baumfrochgattung Hyperolius. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin, 17 (1), 1-132.

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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in western Rwanda, south-western Uganda, western Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (west of Lake Edward and in Mount Ruwenzori). It is a montane species, but its exact altitudinal range is around 1,600 to 2,700 m asl. Its range, taken as a proxy for extent of occurrence (EOO), is estimated to be 12,383 km2.
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Distribution and Habitat

Found in high-elevation montane forest along streams in western Rwanda, western Burundi, southwestern Uganda, and eastern D. R. Congo (Channing and Howell 2006).

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Range

Found in the Albertine Rift, encompassing parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, western Rwanda, western Burundi, and south-western Uganda (1).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a species of montane forests, associated with rivers, streams and swamps where it presumably breeds. Its adaptability to secondary habitats is not known. Its habitat is declining outside protected areas where this species has not been recorded.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Hyperolius discodactylus occurs along streams in montane forests (6).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group

Reviewer/s
Luedtke, J.

Contributor/s
Plumptre, A., Schiøtz, A., Liedtke , C., Dehling, M., Menegon, M., Drewes, R. & Loader, S.

Justification
Listed as Least Concern because even though its population is considered to be severely fragmented and it has an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of 12,383 km2, it is known from protected areas where populations are not considered to be in decline.

History
  • 2004
    Vulnerable
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

The call is a rather long buzzing with a duration of about 0.3 sec and a frequency-intensity maximum at about 2000-2500 cps (Schiøtz 1999).

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Population

Population
It can be common within a site, but in general is rarely encountered. As it is a high altitude species, its population is thought to be severely fragmented across its range, as no one fragment has more than 50% of the population and subpopulations are thought to be too far apart for dispersal.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Although the species was initially listed as "Vulnerable", it is now considered "Least Concern". Threats to this species include agriculture, aquaculture, biological resource use, logging, small holder farming, ranching, and grazing. It also lives in a highly fragmented habitat (IUCN SSC 2013).

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Major Threats
Little information is available, though it may be impacted by the loss of habitat for agriculture (crops and livestock), wood extraction and human settlements outside of protected areas.
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In common with other reed frogs endemic to the Albertine Rift, the distribution of Hyperolius discodactylus is severely fragmented and its population is probably declining because of a decrease in the quality and extent of its habitat. Wood extraction, habitat conversion for agriculture and encroaching human settlement are thought to be principally responsible for habitat degradation in the Albertine Rift (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is present in the Bwindi National Park (Uganda), Ruwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda), Nyungwe National Park (Rwanda), Bururi Nature Reserve (Burundi) and Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Virungas National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo). Conservation of habitat outside protected areas is required. More information is needed on this species' occurrence outside of protected areas, as well as on its taxonomy.
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Conservation

There are no known conservation measures for Hyperolius discodactylus, but it is known to be present in at least three protected areas, Bwindi National Park and Ruwenzori Mountains National Park in Uganda, and Virungas National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (1).
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Wikipedia

Hyperolius discodactylus

Hyperolius discodactylus is a species of frog in the Hyperoliidae family. It is found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and rivers. It is threatened by habitat loss.

References

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