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      Resurrection and re-description of Plethodontohyla laevis (Boettger, 1913) and transfer of Rhombophryne alluaudi (Mocquard, 1901) to the genus Plethodontohyla (Amphibia, Microhylidae, Cophylinae)

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          Abstract

          The systematics of the cophyline microhylid frog genera Plethodontohyla and Rhombophryne have long been intertwined, and their relationships have only recently started to become clear. While Rhombophryne has received a lot of recent taxonomic attention, Plethodontohyla has been largely neglected. Our study is a showcase of just how complex the taxonomic situation between these two genera is, and the care that must be taken to resolve taxonomic conundrums where old material, multiple genus transitions, and misattribution of new material obfuscate the picture. We assessed the identity of the historic names Dyscophus alluaudi (currently in the genus Rhombophryne), Phrynocara laeve and Plethodontohyla laevis tsianovohensis (both synonyms of Rhombophryne alluaudi) based on an integrative taxonomic approach harnessing genetics, external morphology, osteological data obtained via micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT) and bioacoustics. We show that (1) the holotype of Dyscophus alluaudi is a member of the genus Plethodontohyla; (2) the Rhombophryne specimens from central Madagascar currently assigned to Rhombophryne alluaudi have no affinity with that species, and are instead an undescribed species; and (3) Phrynocara laeve and Dyscophus alluaudi are not synonymous, but represent closely related species, whereas Plethodontohyla laevis tsianovohensis is tentatively confirmed as synonym of D. alluaudi. We resurrect and re-describe Plethodontohyla laevis, and re-allocate and re-describe Plethodontohyla alluaudi on the basis of new and historic material.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Dynamics of mitochondrial DNA evolution in animals: amplification and sequencing with conserved primers.

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            Vast underestimation of Madagascar's biodiversity evidenced by an integrative amphibian inventory.

            Amphibians are in decline worldwide. However, their patterns of diversity, especially in the tropics, are not well understood, mainly because of incomplete information on taxonomy and distribution. We assess morphological, bioacoustic, and genetic variation of Madagascar's amphibians, one of the first near-complete taxon samplings from a biodiversity hotspot. Based on DNA sequences of 2,850 specimens sampled from over 170 localities, our analyses reveal an extreme proportion of amphibian diversity, projecting an almost 2-fold increase in species numbers from the currently described 244 species to a minimum of 373 and up to 465. This diversity is widespread geographically and across most major phylogenetic lineages except in a few previously well-studied genera, and is not restricted to morphologically cryptic clades. We classify the genealogical lineages in confirmed and unconfirmed candidate species or deeply divergent conspecific lineages based on concordance of genetic divergences with other characters. This integrative approach may be widely applicable to improve estimates of organismal diversity. Our results suggest that in Madagascar the spatial pattern of amphibian richness and endemism must be revisited, and current habitat destruction may be affecting more species than previously thought, in amphibians as well as in other animal groups. This case study suggests that worldwide tropical amphibian diversity is probably underestimated at an unprecedented level and stresses the need for integrated taxonomic surveys as a basis for prioritizing conservation efforts within biodiversity hotspots.
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              Deciphering amphibian diversity through DNA barcoding: chances and challenges.

              Amphibians globally are in decline, yet there is still a tremendous amount of unrecognized diversity, calling for an acceleration of taxonomic exploration. This process will be greatly facilitated by a DNA barcoding system; however, the mitochondrial population structure of many amphibian species presents numerous challenges to such a standardized, single locus, approach. Here we analyse intra- and interspecific patterns of mitochondrial variation in two distantly related groups of amphibians, mantellid frogs and salamanders, to determine the promise of DNA barcoding with cytochrome oxidase subunit I (cox1) sequences in this taxon. High intraspecific cox1 divergences of 7-14% were observed (18% in one case) within the whole set of amphibian sequences analysed. These high values are not caused by particularly high substitution rates of this gene but by generally deep mitochondrial divergences within and among amphibian species. Despite these high divergences, cox1 sequences were able to correctly identify species including disparate geographic variants. The main problems with cox1 barcoding of amphibians are (i) the high variability of priming sites that hinder the application of universal primers to all species and (ii) the observed distinct overlap of intraspecific and interspecific divergence values, which implies difficulties in the definition of threshold values to identify candidate species. Common discordances between geographical signatures of mitochondrial and nuclear markers in amphibians indicate that a single-locus approach can be problematic when high accuracy of DNA barcoding is required. We suggest that a number of mitochondrial and nuclear genes may be used as DNA barcoding markers to complement cox1.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Zoosystematics and Evolution
                ZSE
                Pensoft Publishers
                1860-0743
                1435-1935
                February 02 2018
                February 02 2018
                : 94
                : 1
                : 109-135
                Article
                10.3897/zse.94.14698
                © 2018

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