Pseudepidalea brongersmai is a medium sized anuran adapted to semi-arid conditions of northwest Africa. It exhibits green dorsal spots, a tarsal fold and conspicuous paratoid glands. This species is classified as Near Threatened due to its steady decline in habitat, in a region where surface waters for breeding are intrinsically limited.
P. brongersmai is found in portions of three ecoregions in western North Africa: Mediterranean acacia-argania dry woodland, Atlantic coastal desert, and North Saharan steppe and woodlands (World Wildlife Fund & Hogan, 2008). This species range is restricted to western, southern and eastern Morocco, extending into northern Western Sahara and into northwestern Algeria. The range is disjunctive, with the larger portion being Y-shaped, including an elongated near-coastal area and a very long inland valley stretching from the vicinity of Al Ayun east of the Atlas Mountains to the area of Er Rachidia; a smaller disjunctive coastal element of the range is found below Al Ayun. The range is entirely mainland.Elevation of occurrence is from sea level to 1600 meters above mean sea level (Salvador et al. 2006).
P. brongersmai adults have a rounded snout with a head approximately 2.5 times in length versus height. The horizontally measured eye diameter is slightly less than the distance between snout and eye; moreover, that horizontal eye diameter is about 2.5 times the horizontal diameter of the tympanum. The interorbital area is quite flattened. Subarticular tubercles on digits are single, except for the distal occurrences, which are frequently double. Subarticular toe tubercles are also single, other than the the double distal tubercle on toe three, and the distal two on the fourth toe. The dorsum is a pale brownish gray, overlain with small green patches and black spots. The paratoid glands, upper eyelids and dorsal warts are reddish. The venter is whitish with green spots (Salvador, 1996).
P. brongersmai adult males can achieve a snout to vent length of 51 millimeters, while adult females have a characteristic length of around 48 millimeters (Salvador, 1996).
The pupil is not vertical, differentiating P. brongersmai from any Pelobates or Alytes genus taxa. The subject species lacks adhesive pads on fingers and toes (distinguishing it from Hyla meridionalis). The paratoid glands of P. brongersmai are rounded, and the distal subarticular tubercle of the fourth toe is double (features distinguishing the species from close relative P. viridis). There are green dorsal spots (as opposed to brown dorsal spots that characterize Amietophrynus xeros and Bufo mauritanicus). Tarsal fold is present (differentiating this species from Bufo bufo). P. brongersmai lacks a tarsal spade (differentiating it from B. pentoni). The skin of P.brongersmai exhibits warts, and has conspicuous paratoid glands (both features in opposition to Discoglossus pictus or D. scovazzi). The foregoing supplies a complete key for anurans in the North African region, with respect to differentiating the subject taxon (Salvador, 1996).
Habitat and Ecology
P. brongersmai has a preferred terrestrial habitat of semi-arid, hilly areas with Argania spinosa, Euphorbia spp. and graminaceous vegetation. This anuran may even be found in ploughed fields, and usually hides beneath stones during the day. The temporary freshwater ponds that it breeds in are chiefly located in rocky areas, and it has also been observed in modified water bodies, such as impounded ephemeral rivers and streams. (Salvador et al. 2006).
Although there are few amphibian associates in the range of D. brongersmai other than a few cosmopolitan species, there are a number of notable reptilian taxa present. Taking the North Sahara steppe and woodlands ecoregion part of the range, the diversity of reptiles is moderately high, but the number of endemic reptilian species is lower than in semi-desert areas of Southern Africa. Here there are two strict endemic reptiles present in the ecoregion: the Changeable agama (Trapelus mutabilis) and Natterer's pygmy gecko (Tropiocolotes nattereri). Other common reptiles in the ecoregion include the horned viper (Cerastes cerastes) and desert varan (Varanus griseus; World Wildlife Fund & Hogan, 2008).
This anuran can be locally abundant in suitable and unaltered habitat, but its population is in decline, because its habitat area is being reduced and fragmented. As a net population trend, the IUCN has classified this species as decreasing (Salvador et al. 2006).
IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status
P. brongersmai is listed by the IUCN as Near Threatened since this species is probably in significant decline (at a likely rate of less than 30% over ten years) because of serious habitat degradation through most of its range, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable (Salvador et al. 2006).
P. brongersmai is threatened throughout much of its range by increased aridity, water pollution and drainage of some of its breeding habitats (Salvador et al. 2006). The increasing aridity is a regional trend enduring for over 2000 years, with clear evidence of a wetter and more verdant era in Roman times. The most severe impacts are in coastal areas where expansion of the indigenous population is placing pressure on over-exploitation of surface water resources.
Conservation Actions and Management
P. brongersmai can be found in Souss-Massa National Park in Morocco, but this anuran is not protected by Moroccan national legislation. This species is known to capable of being bred successfully in captivity (Salvador et al. 2006).
Pseudepidalea brongersmai, also known as the Tiznit Toad, is an amphibian species found in northwest Africa, chiefly occurring in Morocco and Algeria. Its habitat is primarily semi-arid sparsely vegetated areas, and it is also thought to be adapted to some disturbed areas.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2013. Pseudepidalea brongersmai. African Amphibians Lifedesk. ed. B. Zimkus
- A. Salvador. 1996. Amphibians of Northwest Africa. Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service. 109, pp. 1-43.
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