, Volume 97, Issue 6, pp 525–543 | Cite as

Living within fallen palm leaves: the discovery of an unknown Blommersia (Mantellidae: Anura) reveals a new reproductive strategy in the amphibians of Madagascar

  • Franco AndreoneEmail author
  • Gonçalo M. Rosa
  • Jean Noël
  • Angelica Crottini
  • Miguel Vences
  • Christopher J. Raxworthy
Original Paper


We describe a new mantelline frog of the genus Blommersia found in rainforest in North East Madagascar, from the protected areas of Ambatovaky, Betampona, Masoala, and Zahamena. Blommersia angolafa n.sp. is a small frog, with a body size of 17–21 mm, expanded finger and toe tips, and colouration ranging from yellow to dark brown, with pale-bluish spots on the flanks and light tips of fingers and toes. A peculiar aspect characterising this new species is its novel life history and reproductive mode. Both sexes live and breed in a phytotelmic habitat of water accumulated within fallen prophylls and fallen leaf sheaths of at least three species of Dypsis palms. Within these phytotelmata, egg laying and complete larval development occur. Thus, B. angolafa n.sp. represents a new evolutionary lineage of Malagasy frogs in which phytotelmy is known. Up to now, reproduction in phytotelmata in Malagasy frogs has been reported for many cophyline microhylids, most species of Guibemantis, Mantella laevigata, and possibly in a still-undescribed species belonging to the genus Spinomantis. We consider the reproductive mode of B. angolafa as a derived character, having evolved from the more typical reproduction in lentic water bodies. The general scarcity of lentic habitats in Malagasy rainforests may have provided the conditions that favoured the evolution of this phytotelmic breeding strategy. The new species, being specialised to a habitat represented by a few selected Dypsis species, potentially suffers the selective exploitation of these palms.


Amphibia Anura Mantellidae New species Madagascar Phytotelmic breeding Dypsis palms 



The Betampona field survey was carried out in collaboration with the Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (Antananarivo) and the Département de Biologie Animale (Antananarivo University). F. Andreone's fieldwork was financially supported by Saint Louis Zoo, Wildcare Institute and Gondwana Conservation and Research. C.J. Raxworthy's fieldwork was financially supported by National Science Foundation (BSR 90–24505, DEB 93–22600, DEB 99–84496), CARE, and Conservation International. M. Vences did his work through a co-operation with the Département de Biologie Animale (Antananarivo University) and was supported by the Volkswagen Foundation. We are grateful to the local staff of ANGAP and to the Malagasy authorities for permits supporting our research and collecting activity. A. Ohler kindly allowed the loan of some crucial typic material housed at Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle de Paris. J. Dransfield and M. Rakotoarinivo kindly provided unpublished data regarding the distribution of the palm genus Dypsis. Finally, we thank all those who helped us with assistance in the field, assistance in the laboratory, discussions, comments and personal communications: A. Bollen, P. Eusebio Bergò, K. Freeman, A. Katz, R. A. Nussbaum, I. Porton, N. Rabibisoa, J.B. Ramanamanjato, M.O. Randriambahiniarime, J.E. Randrianirina, A.F. Ranjanaharisoa, A.P. Raselimanana, A. and A. Razofimanantsoa, M.O. Sohantenaina, C. Welch, and K.C. Wollenberg.

Supplementary material

114_2010_667_MOESM1_ESM.txt (2 kb)
SM1 Genetic distance matrix of the 3′ terminus of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene based on the pairwise distance calculation of the individuals analysed in this study (TXT 1 kb)
114_2010_667_MOESM2_ESM.txt (1 kb)
SM2 Genetic distance matrix of the 5′ terminus of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene based on the pairwise distance calculation of the individuals analysed in this study (TXT 1 kb)
114_2010_667_MOESM3_ESM.txt (1 kb)
SM3 Genetic distance matrix of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene based on the pairwise distance calculation of the individuals analysed in this study (TXT 1 kb)
114_2010_667_MOESM4_ESM.txt (1 kb)
SM4 Genetic distance matrix of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene based on the pairwise distance calculation of the individuals analysed in this study (TXT 1 kb)
114_2010_667_MOESM5_ESM.txt (1 kb)
SM5 Genetic distance matrix of the nuclear rhodopsin gene based on the pairwise distance calculation of the individuals analysed in this study (TXT 1 kb)
114_2010_667_MOESM6_ESM.txt (1 kb)
SM6 Genetic distance matrix of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 gene based on the pairwise distance calculation of the individuals analysed in this study (TXT 1 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Franco Andreone
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gonçalo M. Rosa
    • 2
  • Jean Noël
    • 3
  • Angelica Crottini
    • 5
  • Miguel Vences
    • 4
  • Christopher J. Raxworthy
    • 6
  1. 1.Museo Regionale di Scienze NaturaliTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia AnimalFaculdade de Ciências da Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Madagascar Fauna GroupToamasinaMadagascar
  4. 4.Division of Evolutionary BiologyTechnical University of BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany
  5. 5.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversitá degli Studi di MilanoMilanoItaly
  6. 6.Department of HerpetologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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