Sunday, March 19, 2017

[Herpetology • 2015] Realities of Rarity: Climatically and Ecologically Restricted, Critically Endangered Kandian Torrent Toads (Adenomus kandianus) Breed en masse


Figure 1: Amplexus and mating aggregations in Adenomus kandianus.
(
a) An amplexed pair out of water, showing axillary amplexus. (bc) A large mating aggregation in slow water, sandy-bottomed refuge in a stream bordering the Peak Wilderness sanctuary. 


Abstract

Endemic to Sri Lanka, genus Adenomus contains two torrent-associated toad species whose ecology and natural history in the wild is virtually unknown. Adenomus kelaartii is relatively common, with a wide geographic distribution. Its sister species, A. kandianus, however, is restricted to two isolated populations in fast-disappearing montane and sub-montane forests. Formally declared extinct after not being recorded for over a century, a few A. kandianus were rediscovered in 2012 and redescribed as "the world's rarest toad". Here we report the results of a two-year study of the occurrence, habits and habitat associations of adult and larval A. kandianus using both general surveys and quadrat sampling. We show this to be a secretive species with a patchy distribution. Non-breeding female toads dwell in primary-forest habitats, but after heavy and sudden downpours they form large mating congregations in large streams. Amplexed pairs swim synchronously, enabling them to traverse fast currents. Egg-laying sites remain unknown, but the ability to dive and vocalize underwater, and characteristics of the eggs, suggest that they lay eggs in dark recesses of the stream. Tadpoles show microhabitat partitioning within the stream, with the greatest diversity of stages in slow-flowing rocky areas. The more robust stages possessing sucker discs exploit rocky-rapids, while metamorphic stages inhabit stream margins. We use DNA-barcoding to show the existence of two disparate toad populations. Distribution modeling with forest-cover layers added, predict a very small remaining area of suitable habitats. Conservation of this climatically and ecologically restricted species hinge largely on the preservation of high-elevation primary and riparian forests and unpolluted torrents.


Figure 1: Amplexus and mating aggregations in Adenomus kandianus.
(a) An amplexed pair out of water, showing axillary amplexus. (bd) A large mating aggregation in slow water, sandy-bottomed refuge in a stream bordering the Peak Wilderness sanctuary.



  Madhava Meegaskumbura, Nayana Wijayathilaka, Nirodha Abayalath and Gayani Senevirathne. 2015.  Realities of Rarity: Climatically and Ecologically Restricted, Critically Endangered Kandian Torrent Toads (Adenomus kandianus) Breed en masse.
PeerJ PrePrints 3:e1964. DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.1575v1

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