Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
This complex probably consists of two or more cryptic species, in recent literature described under the following names:
Afrixalus fulvovittatus (Cope 1860), Schiøtz 1967, Perret 1976, Frost 1985.
Afrixalus vittiger Peters 1876, Perret 1976, Frost 1985, Rödel 1996.
Afrixalus fulvovittatus leptosomus (non Peters?) Perret 1960, 1966, A. leptosomus Schiøtz 1974,
Afrixalus f. quadrivittatus (Werner 1907) Laurent 1972. A. quadrivittatus Schiøtz 1975, Perret 1976.
Afrixalus fulvovittatus brevipalmatus (Ahl 1931), Perret 1976.
A medium-sized Afrixalus (males 23-27 mm SVL, females 25-28 mm) from savanna and bushland. Dorsum dark brown with three regular light longitudinal stripes of equal width, confluent on the head.
This regularly striped Afrixalus is a characteristic and abundant element of the savanna and open forest in the northern half of Africa. Perret has studied this form extensively and has noted small differences between the populations, differences which in Cameroun are consistent so that two types are allopatrically distributed in savanna and bushland respectively. The differences are:
Type A: slender, light stripes without fine dark midline, two dark dorsal lines without an expansion at eye level. Small dorsal asperities in males. Strictly savanna-living.
Type B: stout, fine dark line or median punctuation in light lines, dark dorsal lines expanded on the upper eyelid; no dorsal asperities in males. Savanna and bushland, or bushland alone.
Outside Cameroun the picture becomes complicated. Throughout West Africa type A seems to be the only form which occurs except in Sierra Leone and Liberia, where some samples taken in bushland show type B characters. Further east, in the savanna of northern R. D. Congo, south-western Ethiopia and Uganda the characters do not seem to vary consistently, and both type A and B can be found or, in Uganda, populations with a mixture of characters (such as expansion of dark lines at eye level but no fine dark midline; male with asperities). Laurent has analysed the populations from R. D. Congo and found small morphological differences between bushland and savanna forms here, but cannot correlate these differences with those from populations in Cameroun.In some literature (Schiøtz 1974, 1975) it has been advocated that there are two species, A. fulvovittatus (type A) from northern Cameroun westwards, and another, largely type B, from central Cameroun east- and southwards. In other literature (Frost 1985, Rödel 1996) that there are two species, A. vittiger (type A) and A. fulvovittatus (Type B) both distributed from Sierra Leone eastwards to Ethiopia, and that they are partly sympatric but that the latter has a disjunct distribution and is split up into several subspecies and distributed further to the south.
Also the names applied show a certain level of confusion. Perret (1976), Frost (1985) and Rödel (1996) used the name A. vittiger for type A and A. fulvovittatus for type B, both with Liberia as the type locality, but Perret (in. litt.) has pointed out that his use of the name vittiger for type A is probably incorrect. This use cannot be justified from the description, and it is unlikely that such a strict savanna species can be found in Liberia, the type locality for A. vittiger. Presumably vittiger is therefore a synonym for A. fulvovittatus, and the widespread and abundant striped savanna form (type A) may be unnamed. Schiøtz (1975) referred type B in Uganda to A. quadrivittatus (type loc. Khor Attar, Sudan). A. brevipalmatus (type loc. Sangmelina, Cameroun) has been regarded as the subspecies or species (type B) which occurs in the southern, forested Cameroun. A name frequently used for the more eastern and southern type B specimens is A. leptosomus. I believe that this name is wrongly applied, and that Peters description of leptosomus is based on a rather common pattern variant of A. dorsalis with a thin light midline and broad, irregular dorsolateral lines, as seen from Peters illustration. Unfortunately his type has disappeared.
This account was taken from "Treefrogs of Africa" by Arne Schiøtz with kind permission from Edition Chimaira publishers, Frankfurt am Main.
Distribution information updated by A. Schiøtz, 2008.