Rhacophoridae Hoffman, 1932 (1858)

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Rhacophoridae
402 species

Polypedatidae Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 346. Type genus: Polypedates Tschudi, 1838.

PolypedatinaMivart, 1869, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1869: 292.

PolypedatinaeBoulenger, 1888, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1888: 205.

PolypedatidaeNoble, 1927, Ann. New York Acad. Sci., 30: 105.

Rhacophoridae Hoffman, 1932, S. Afr. J. Sci., 29: 581. Type genus: Rhacophorus Kuhl and Van Hasselt, 1822.

RhacophorinaeLaurent, 1943, Bull. Mus. R. Hist. Nat. Belg., 19: 16.

RacophoridaeHellmich, 1957, Veröff. Zool. Staatssamml. München, 5: 28. Incorrect subsequent spelling.

Philautinae Dubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 258. Type genus: Philautus Gistel, 1848. Synonymy by Channing, 1989, S. Afr. J. Zool., 24: 116-131.

PhilautiniDubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 34, 69; Dubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 335.

Buergeriinae Channing, 1989, S. Afr. J. Zool., 24: 127. Type genus: Buergeria Tschudi, 1838.

BuergeriiniDubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 335.

RhacophoriniDubois, 1992, Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Lyon, 61: 336.

Nyctixalini Grosjean, Delorme, Dubois, and Ohler, 2008, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 46: 174. Type genus: Nyctixalus Boulenger, 1882, by original designation. Tribe of Rhacophorinae formulated originally to contain the monophyletic group of Theloderma + Nyctixalus.

RhacophoriniGrosjean, Delorme, Dubois, and Ohler, 2008, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 46: 174. Reformulation of tribe to contain Aquixalus, Chiromantis (including Feihyla in their sense), Kurixalus, Philautus, Polypedates, and Rhacophorus.

English Names

Flying Frogs (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 110; Li, Zhao, and Dong, 2010, Amph. Rept. Tibet: 58).

Afro-Asian Tree Frogs (Halliday and Adler, 2002, New Encyclop. Rept. Amph.: 85).

Oar-legged Tree Frogs (Shrestha, 2001, Herpetol. Nepal: 91).


Subsaharan Africa; southern Asia from Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India, to Japan, the Philippines and Sulwesi (Indonesia).


Under the provisions of Article 40 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1999), for purposes of priority Rhacophoridae takes the date of Polypedatidae Günther, 1858, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1858: 346. Liem, 1970, Fieldiana, Zool., 57: 1-145, discussed phylogenetic relationships within the family. Lynch, 1973, in Vial (ed.), Evol. Biol. Anurans: 133-182, considered this group to be a subfamily of Ranidae, as did Dubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 69; and Blommers-Schlösser, 1993, Ethol. Ecol. Evol., 5: 199-203. Dubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 225-284, suggested a gradistic subfamilial taxonomy on the basis of Liem's preferred phylogenetic tree. Channing, 1989, S. Afr. J. Zool., 24: 116-131, provided a monophyletic subfamilial taxonomy of rhacophorids. Dubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 17, regarded Rhacophoridae as a subfamily of Ranidae, containing three tribes: Buergeriini (Buergeria), Philautini (Aquixalus, Kurixalus, Nyctixalus, Philautus, and Theloderma), and Rhacophorini (Chirixalus, Chiromantis, Polypedates, and Rhacophorus), although Philautini was explicitly paraphyletic according to their own phylogenetic tree. 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: 1-370, provided a taxonomic history, rejected the subfamilial taxonomy suggested by Dubois, 2005, and on the basis of molecular evidence confirmed earlier suggestions that Rhacophoridae is the sister taxon of Mantellidae, and together with that taxon, the sister taxon of Ranidae. See Mantellidae record for comments. Accounts for Philippine species are provided by Brown and Alcala, 1994, Proc. California Acad. Sci., Ser. 4, 48: 185-220. See Jiang, Hu, and Zhao, 1987, Acta Herpetol. Sinica, Chengdu, N.S.,, 6 (1): 27-42, for discussion of phylogenetic relationships among Chinese species. Bossuyt and Milinkovitch, 2000, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97: 6585-6590, suggested that the relationships as generally accepted at that time were strongly at variance with the molecular evidence. Marmayou, Dubois, Ohler, Pasquet, and Tillier, 2000, C. R. Acad. Sci., Ser. 3, Paris, 323: 287-297, discussed a phylogenetic analysis of molecular evidence, which suggested that rhacophorids are deeply imbedded within their Ranidae (which was subsequently partition 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: 1-370 (e.g., Dicroglossidae, Ptychadenidae, and Nyctibatrachidae). Bossuyt, Brown, Hillis, Cannatella, and Milinkovitch, 2006, Syst. Biol., 55: 579-594, provided molecular evidence in support of the Buergeriinae--Rhacophorinae dichotomy. Wilkinson and Drewes, 2000, Contemp. Herpetol., 2000: 1-14, discussed the morphological evidence for phylogenetic inference in rhacophorids and noted several errors in previously published literature. Vences and Glaw, 2001, Spixiana, München, 24: 85-92, excluded Boophis, Laliostoma, Aglyptodactylus, Mantella, and Mantidactylus from Rhacophoridae, instead placing them in Mantellidae, and arrangement followed here and by most other authors. Marmayou, Dubois, Ohler, Pasquet, and Tillier, 2000, C. R. Acad. Sci., Ser. 3, Paris, 323: 287-297, discussed the phylogenetic placement of the taxon and provided molecular evidence for its placement within Ranidae (as the sister taxon of all Ranidae (sensu lato) excepting Occidozyga and Phrynoglossa). Wilkinson, Drewes, and Tatum, 2002, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 24: 265-273, provided a molecule-based phylogeny reconstruction of this taxon, provided evidence of the sister-taxon relationship of Rhacophoridae and Mantellidae (which they considered to be subfamilies within a larger Rhacophoridae). Meegaskumbura, Bossuyt, Pethiyagoda, Manamendra-Arachchi, Bahir, Milinkovitch, and Schneider, 2002, Science, 298: 379, provided a molecular phylogeny. Manthey and Grossmann, 1997, Amph. Rept. Südostasiens: 121-139, provided accounts and keys to the species of the Sunda Shelf. Anders, 2002, in Schleich and Kästle (eds.), Amph. Rept. Nepal: 316-340, provided a key and accounts for the species in Nepal. Malkmus, Manthey, Vogel, Hoffmann, and Kosuch, 2002, Amph. Rept. Mount Kinabalu: 175, provided a key to the genera of Borneo. Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda, 2005, Raffles Bull. Zool., Suppl., 12: 163-303, reviewed the species of Sri Lanka and provided a key. Grosjean, Delorme, Dubois, and Ohler, 2008, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 46: 169-176, reported on phylogenetics of rhacophords and the evolution of breeding systems on that tree. On a somewhat larger dataset, Li, Che, Bain, Zhao, and Zhang, 2008, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 48: 302-312, reported on phylogenetics of rhacophorids and supported the monophyly of the family and subfamilies and made a number of taxonomic changes to genera to render monophyletic groups. Yu, Rao, Zhang, and Yang, 2009, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 50: 571-579, expanded the amount of data under consideration and further refined our understanding of rhacophorid relationships. Yu, Rao, Yang, and Zhang, 2008, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 153: 733-749, reported on molecular phylogenetics with a special reference to Chinese species. Vitt and Caldwell, 2009, Herpetology, 3rd Ed.: 476-477, provided a general taxonomic account and map as part of a much more general and extensive overview of amphibian biology. Fei, Hu, Ye, and Huang, 2009, Fauna Sinica, Amph. 2: 654-868, provided a key and accounts for the species of China. Wiens, Sukumaran, Pyron, and Brown, 2009, Evolution, 63: 1217-1231, provided a molecular analysis of exemplars of the family (as a subfamily of Ranidae) that corroborated much of what is currently understood about relationships within the taxon although many of the basal stems in the rhacophorine section of the tree lack confidence measures, suggesting either low or conjectural support. Li, Che, Murphy, Zhao, Zhao, Rao, and Zhang, 2009, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 53: 509-522, provided further analysis and revision of the family on the basis of a large body of molecular evidence. Bossuyt and Roelants, 2009, in Hedges and Kumar (eds.), Timetree of Life: 357-364, considered this taxon a distinct family based on its Mesozoic origin. Li, Rao, Murphy, and Zhang, 2011, Asian Herpetol. Res., Ser. 3, 2 (1) : 1-11, reported on the systematic status and literature of the systematics of rhacophorids. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543-583, largely confirmed previous work in their molecular tree based on Genbank sequences. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39-55, briefly reviewed the taxonomic history of this taxon. Li, Li, Klaus, Rao, Hillis, and Zhang, 2013, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 110: 34413446, provided a discussion of biogeography based on a Bayesian analysis of molecular data. This study confirmed the sister-taxon relationship of Buergeriinae and Rhacophorinae; additional comments on the results of this tree, which were largely confirmatory of previous work, are provided in the generic records. Vitt and Caldwell, 2013, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Hertwig, Schweizer, Das, and Haas, 2013, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 68: 567-581, provided a molecular tree of the family with special reference to the species of the Greater Sunda Islands. Employing a dataset of 3.47kb of mtDNA (12S and 16S) and nuDNA (RAG1BDFNF, Rhodopsin exon-1) aligned statically and analysed under MrBayes the evolution of life-history strategies of the genera of rhacophorids were investigated by Meegaskumbura, Senevirathne, Biju, Garg, Meegaskumbura, Pethiyagoda, Hanken, and Schneider, 2015, Zool. Scripta, 44: 509–522. Their tree is substantially different from that of Hertwig et al., 2003, but given that these studies differ in assumption sets (Hertwig et al. employed a maximum-likelihood analysis and Meegaskumbur et al., employed MrBayes) the differences cannot at this point be easily reconciled (DRF). Dang, Sun, Lv, Zhao, Wang, Murphy, Wang, and Li, 2016, MtDNA, Part A, 27: 2574–2584, reported on effective genes for barcoding and presented Bayes and NJ trees. 

Contained taxa (402 sp.):

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