Mertensophryne Tihen, 1960

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Bufonidae > Genus: Mertensophryne
14 species

Mertensophryne Tihen, 1960, Copeia, 1960: 226. Type species: Bufo (micranotis) rondoensis Loveridge, 1942, by original designation.

Stephopaedes Channing, 1979 "1978", Herpetologica, 34: 394. Type species: Bufo anotis Boulenger, 1907, by original designation. Synonymy (as a subgenus) by Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 206.

English Names

Snouted Frogs (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 44).

Chirinda Forest Toads (Ananjeva, Borkin, Darevsky, and Orlov, 1988, Dict. Amph. Rept. Five Languages: 44).

Mahenge Toads (Stephopaedes: Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 46).

Forest Toads (Stephopaedes: Channing, 2001, Amph. Cent. S. Afr.: 105; Channing and Howell, 2006, Amph. E. Afr.: 119; Mertensophryne: Du Preez and Carruthers, 2009, Compl. Guide Frogs S. Afr.: 193).

Distribution

Eastern and southern Dem. Rep. Congo to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, southeastern Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique.

Comment

Grandison, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 208, discussed the phylogenetic relationships of Mertensophryne. Cunningham and Cherry, 2004, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 32: 671-685, suggested on molecular grounds that Mertensophryne and Stephopaedes were very closely related and sharing larval synapomorphies; this previously suspected by Graybeal and Cannatella, 1995, Herpetologica, 51: 122. Graybeal, 1997, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 119: 297-338, suggested that Stephopaedes is nested within an African Bufo clade including Bufo garmani, Bufo taitanus, and Mertensophryne. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 206, placed the Bufo taitanus group into Mertensophryne and Stephopaedes as a subgenus of Mertensophryne. Aspects of the diagnosis of Stephopaedes were discussed by Poynton, 1991, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 152: 452-456. Poynton, Menegon, and Salvidio, 2005, Afr. J. Herpetol., 54: 159-170, provided a key to the members of the dwarf toads of Tanzania and Malawi. Smith and Chiszar, 2006, Herpetol. Conserv. Biol., 1: 6-8, implied that this taxon should be considered a subgenus of Bufo; see comment under Bufonidae. Van Bocxlaer, Biju, Loader, and Bossuyt, 2009, BMC Evol. Biol., 9 (e131): 1-10, found Mertensophryne to be a monophyletic group and the sister taxon of Amietophrynus, among the exemplars studied by them. In a more densely-sampled subsequent study Van Bocxlaer, Loader, Roelants, Biju, Menegon, and Bossuyt, 2010, Science, 327: 679-682, found Mertensophryne to be more closely related to Poyntonophrynus, Vandijkophrynus, and Capensibufo. Du Preez and Carruthers, 2009, Compl. Guide Frogs S. Afr.: 193-195, provide a key and accounts for the species of southern Africa. Mercurio, 2011, Amph. Malawi: 127-131, provided account and an identification key for species of Malawi. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543-583, in their study of Genbank sequences, suggested the monophyly of this taxon (although this is obscured by their explicit adoption of an out-dated and non-monophyletic taxonomy, including recognition of synonyms like Stephopaedes and old polyphyletic genera, like Bufo [sensu lato]), its placement as the sister taxon of Poyntonophrynus, and provided a tree of exemplar species. Channing, Rödel, and Channing, 2012, Tadpoles of Africa: 143–148, reported on comparative tadpole morphology. Fouquette and Dubois, 2014, Checklist N.A. Amph. Rept.: 290, considered Mertensophryne and, surprisingly, Stephopaedes, as subgenera of Bufo, cherry-picking their citation to literature (excluding any reference to  Van Bocxlaer, Biju, Loader, and Bossuyt, 2009, BMC Evol. Biol., 9 (e131): 1–10, Van Bocxlaer, Loader, Roelants, Biju, Menegon, and Bossuyt, 2010, Science, 327: 679–682, or Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, which provided results not congruent with the story that Fouquette and Dubois wanted to tell) to avoid recognizing that treating this genus as a subgenus of Bufo also requires under current understanding of phylogeny all Old-World bufonids, such as SabahphrynusNectophryne, and Ansonia to be treated as subgenera of Bufo as well.  

Contained taxa (14 sp.):

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