Elucidating cryptic diversity in East African frogs : the case of Arthroleptis francei Loveridge, 1953

Woest, NL ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6177-8658 2020, Elucidating cryptic diversity in East African frogs : the case of Arthroleptis francei Loveridge, 1953 , MSc by research thesis, University of Salford.

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Detailed information on the diversity of species and their distributions is crucial for the implementation of useful conservation measures. Here, I focus on the Afromontane region of Malawi and Mozambique, and use molecular techniques, environmental inferences and species delimitation methods to clarify the phylogenetic position, existing phylogenetic diversity and distribution of the direct-developing leaf litter frog Arthroleptis francei, a species which is currently listed as Vulnerable (VU) by the IUCN. This study is based on already available as well as newly collected specimens (n = 52), and also serves to test wider biogeographic hypotheses for Afromontane isolates in Mozambique (Mount Mabu, Mount Socone, Mount Chiperone, Mount Inago, Mount Lico and Mount Namuli) and Malawi (Mount Mulanje). The derived phylogenetic trees were based on sequence data across one nuclear (rag-1, 629bp) and two mitochondrial (12S and 16S, 352bp and 455bp, respectively) genes, and suggest the presence of several cryptic taxa linked to mountain clusters. The Bayesian analysis yielded putative species within the mitochondrial gene (16S). Mount Inago diverges from the larger clade with a posterior probability of 1. This larger clade can further be split into five smaller clades per mountain however, Mounts Lico and Chiperone form a clade dispite their vast geographic distance. Mount Mabu appears occupied by two separate taxa, which were found in sympatry within the same locality. The putative distinct taxa could however not be separated with morphometric means, or through colouration. A species distribution model based on environmental data suggests the possible presence of A. francei further atop the explored mountains, as well as on smaller outcrops nearby. Details of the first recorded call of A. francei are presented. I also combined the phylogeny of evolutionary lineages and geographic distribution of the A. francei complex to estimate the weighted endemism, phylogenetic endemism, phylogenetic diversity and species richness. Endemism was mainly average whilst species richness was high in seven hotspots. The newly acquired information contributes to a better understanding of the diversity within A. francei and will hopefully lead to a revision of conservation management practices and recommendations.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc by research)
Contributors: Jehle, R (Supervisor) and Beck, RMD (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Depositing User: Natasha Louise Woest
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2020 09:06
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:42
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/57699

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