Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Adults 22-29 mm. Head, dorsum and flanks deep black. Rostral and frenal stripes absent. Proximal part of femur and humerus generally red (exceptionally orange or yellow). This colour extending onto the flanks as small flank blotches, and is also present as a broad band on tarsus and foot (sometimes disrupted by black markings). A light spot below the eye sometimes present. No flashmarks. Iris without light pigment. Ventral side black with circular whitish-blue markings. Single markings on throat, but no horseshoe marking. Broad red bands on tibia, tarsus and foot which correspond to those on the dorsal surface. Colour morphs intermediate between baroni and cowani occur, probably due to hybridization.

Similar species: None, but hybrids with M. baroni occur.

Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007).

  • Andreone, F. and Vences, M. (2008). Mantella cowanii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 April 2009.
  • Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs on the high plateau of east-central Madagascar from Antakasina, Antoetra, and Itremo with old records to the west that require further investigation. Andreone et al. (2006) located two main population nuclei: the first around Antoetra region, and the second in the Tsinjoarivo area, at about 200 km from Antoetra. It occurs at 1,000-2,000m asl. There is conflicting information on its distribution based on (often very unreliable) hearsay reports from commercial collectors. The Farimazava population next to Antoetra might no longer survive.
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Distribution and Habitat

Ambatodradama, Antoetra, Antratrabe, Betafo, Farihimazava, Itremo, Soamazaka, near Tsinjoarivo, Vatolampy, Vohisokina. It occurs between 1,000m-2,000m asl in tiny strips of vegetation along streams and nearby montane grassland savannah and humid stone walls. It inhabits underground cavities during the dry season, and it can hide in these during fires (Andreone and Vences 2008).

  • Andreone, F. and Vences, M. (2008). Mantella cowanii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 April 2009.
  • Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
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Ecology

Habitat

Madagascar Subhumid Forests Habitat

The Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus aloatrensis) is strictly endemic to the Madagascar subhumid forests ecoregion. This ecoregion, coveris most of the Central Highlands of Madagascar, and boasts a considerable number of endemic species, found chiefly in the relict forest patches and also in some wetland areas. The rainfall here is approximately 1500 mm per year, although it may amount to as much as 2000 mm in the Sambirano area in the northwest and as little as 600 mm in the southwest.

The underlying geology of the ecoregion is mainly ancient Precambrian basement rocks that have been deformed and uplifted over millions of years. There are a few areas of more recent lava flows, and some alluvial deposits associated with wetlands. Vast grasslands now cover much of the central highlands at elevations ranging from 1000 to 1500 metres. The majority of this upland area was formerly forested, and native peoples have affected the fauna and flora through massive deforestation.

Many mammalian taxa are endemic to this ecoregion, including a number of lemurs and numerous shrews, tenrecs and rodents. A far larger number of species are near endemic, with the majority of these shared with the lowland forests to the east. At least 45 species of mammals are found only in the subhumid forest ecoregion and the lowland forest ecoregion of Madagascar and these include, for example, two species of bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur aureus and H. simus).

Of the endemic and near-endemic mammal species in the ecoregion, 12 species listed are on the IUCN Red List; nine species are considered vulnerable; two are endangered and one (the Alaotran gentle lemur) is critical. In the Analavelona forest a species of small mammal was recently discovered, Microgale nasoloi, that is only known from this site and the nearby Zombitse-Vohibasia Forest, the latter being classified in the Madagascar succulent woodlands ecoregion. In addition to the large number of mammalian endemics, there are many special status mammals in the ecoregion, including the Vulnerable Aquatic tenrec (Limnogale mergulus); the Near Threatened Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis);

Two endemic bird species are found in the wetlands of this ecoregion, and others are confined to the subhumid forests or shared with other Madagascar ecoregions. In the wetlands, both the Alaotra little grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) and the Madagascar pochard (Aythya innotata), are considered critically endangered and may be extinct. In the forests the endemic species include, for example, a new genus and species only named a few years ago called the cryptic warbler (Cryptosylvicola randrianasoloi), the yellow-browed oxylabes (Crossleyia xanthophrys), and the brown emutail (Dromaeocercus brunneus). Several other species of birds found here are limited to marshland habitats on Madagascar, including the slender-billed flufftail (Sarothrura watersi), Madagascar snipe (Gallinago macrodactyla), and Madagascar rail (Rallus madagascariensis). Further, Appert’s greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti), an endemic species with a very limited geographical distribution, is abundant on the upper reaches of the Analavelona Massif. More than 20 other bird species that occur in the subhumid forests of this ecoregion are shared only with the eastern lowland forests ecoregion.

The Madagascar subhumid forests hold more than twenty strictly endemic amphibians. Several groups of amphibians include more than one endemic species, such as the microhylids Rhombophryne testudo, Scaphiophryne goettliebi, the mantellids Vulnerable Elegant Madagascar frog (Spinomantis elegans); Mantella crocea, M. cowani, M. eiselti, Mantidactylus domerguei, and the Near Threatened Decary's Madagascar frog (Gephiyromantis decaryi); and the rhacophorids Boophis laurenti and B. microtympanum. Other notable amphibian endemics include:the Benavony stump-toed frog (Stumpffia gimmeli)/

There are a number of special status amphibians in the ecoregion including the Near Threatened Ambohimitombo bright-eyed frog (Boophis majori); the Vulnerable Andoany stump-toed frog (Stumpffia pygmaea); the Endangered Andringitra Madagascar Frog (Mantidactylus madecassus); and the Near Threatened Betsileo Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis rhodoscelis).

There are at least 25 strictly endemic reptiles in this ecoregion. These numbers include historically described species as well as newly identified taxa. Numerous speciess of chameleon and dwarf chameleon only occur in this ecoregion, including Calumma oshaughnessyi ambreensis, C. tsaratananensis, Furcifer petteri, Brookesia ambreesis, B. antakarana, B. lineata, and B. lolontany in the northern and northwestern portion; and C. fallax, F. campani, and F. minor in the central and southern portions. Otpher lizard species endemic to the ecoregion include the skinks Mabuya grnadidieri, M. madagascariensis, M. nancycoutouae, Amphiglossus meva, and Androngo crenni; the geckos Lygodactylus blanciL. decaryi and Phelsuma klemmeri, and the Plated lizard Zonosaurus ornatus. There are also a few endemic species of snakes including Pseudoxyrhopus ankafinensis, Liopholidophis grandidieri, and L. sexlineatus.


  • Du Puy, D.J. and Moat, J. 1996. A refined classification of the primary vegetation of Madagascar based on the underlying geology: using GIS to map its distribution and to assess its conservation status. In W.R. Lourenço (editor). Biogéographie de Madagascar, pp. 205-218, + 3 maps. Editions de l’ORSTOM, Paris. ISBN: 2709913240
  • World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan/. 2015. Madagascar subhumid forests. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a terrestrial species, living in tiny strips of vegetation along streams and nearby montane grassland savannah and humid stone walls. It lives in underground cavities during the dry season, and it can hide in these during fires. It presumably breeds like other mantellas, with the eggs laid on the ground, and the larvae developing in streams. So far, there are no data are on tadpole morphology.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2acd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Andreone, F. & Vences, M.

Reviewer/s
Stuart, S.N., Chanson, J.S. & Cox, N.A.

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Critically Endangered because its Area of Occupancy is probably less than 10km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and the extent of its habitat is probably declining; and also because of a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last three generations (estimated at 15 years), inferred from observed shrinkage in distribution and declines in the number of mature individuals, anecdotal information on habitat destruction and/or degradation, and from levels of exploitation inferred from the numbers of animals in international trade.
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Population

Population
It was formerly reported as being common, but a drastic population decline occurred recently, as deduced from a dramatic reduction in its distribution and in the number of mature adults (Andreone and Randrianirina 2003).

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

Habits: A terrestrial frog, living in gallery forest along streams, moving into nearby montane grassland savannah in the rains. Threatened by deforestation and (in the 1990s) over-exploitation for the international pet trade.

Calls: Series of short single-click notes.

Breeding takes place in streams, and eggs are laid on the ground (Andreone and Vences 2008).

  • Andreone, F. and Vences, M. (2008). Mantella cowanii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 April 2009.
  • Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
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Threats

Major Threats
The fact that the observed decline in this species followed a period of increased exploitation for the international pet trade suggests that populations were over-collected, resulting in a population reduction. Andreone et al. (2006) note that collectors used to collect 2,000 individuals a day, but in 2003 only 100-150 animals per day were collected by an entire village. The species also occurs in a region that has largely been deforested, and the remaining forest fragments are being lost due to subsistence agriculture, timber extraction and charcoal production, fires, and expanding human settlements. However, the species appears able to adapt to open areas, and usually does not penetrate within forests. The Farimazava population next to Antoetra has hybridized with Mantella baroni and might no longer be distinct.
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Critically Endangered: area of occupancy is probably less than 10km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and the extent of its habitat is probably declining; and also because of a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last three generations (estimated at 15 years), inferred from observed shrinkage in distribution and declines in the number of mature individuals, anecdotal information on habitat destruction and/or degradation, and from levels of exploitation inferred from the numbers of animals in international trade. It is not known from any protected areas, making protection of the remaining habitat of this species a top priority. A moratorium on the export of Mantella cowani was implemented in 2003 (through the application of a zero export quota on any Appendix II species until populations recover) (Andreone and Vences 2008).

  • Andreone, F. and Vences, M. (2008). Mantella cowanii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 April 2009.
  • Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It is not known from any protected areas, making protection of the remaining habitat of this species a top priority. A moratorium on the export of Mantella cowani was implemented in 2003 (through the application of a zero export quota on any CITES Appendix II species until populations recover).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Relation to Humans

International pet trade has resulted in a dramatic population decline.

  • Andreone, F. and Vences, M. (2008). Mantella cowanii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 April 2009.
  • Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
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Wikipedia

Cowan's mantella

The Cowan's Mantella (Mantella cowanii) is a species of frog in the Mantellidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and rivers. It is threatened by habitat loss.

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