The phylogenetic position and diversity of the enigmatic mongrel frog Nothophryne Poynton, 1963 (Amphibia, Anura)

G.B. Bittencourt-Silva, W. Conradie, K. Siu-Ting, K.A. Tolley, A. Channing, M. Cunningham, H.M. Farooq, M. Menegon, S.P. Loader

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Abstract

The phylogenetic relationships of the African mongrel frog genus Nothophryne are poorly understood. We provide the first molecular assessment of the phylogenetic position of, and diversity within, this monotypic genus from across its range—the Afromontane regions of Malawi and Mozambique. Our analysis using a two-tiered phylogenetic approach allowed us to place the genus in Pyxicephalidae. Within the family, Nothophryne grouped with Tomopterna, a hypothesis judged significantly better than alternative hypotheses proposed based on morphology. Our analyses of populations across the range of Nothophryne suggest the presence of several cryptic species, at least one species per mountain. Formal recognition of these species is pending but there is a major conservation concern for these narrowly distributed populations in an area impacted by major habitat change. The phylogenetic tree of pyxicephalids is used to examine evolution of life history, ancestral habitat, and biogeography of this group.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)89-102
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Early online date18 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 Mar 2016

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