AMPHIBIAWEB
Poyntonophrynus vertebralis
Pygmy Toad
family: Bufonidae
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
CITES
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: South Africa

 

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

   

From the Encyclopedia of Life account:

Summary

Poyntonophrynus vertebralis is restricted to central South Africa, and proximate to the Botswana border, occurring mainly in the Nama Karoo ecoregion and in the . (Hogan. 2013) Apparently isolated populations are perhaps part of a contiguous range. It is likely to be found in southern Botswana. It is chiefly found below 1500 metres above mean sea level. It breeds in temporary shallow pans, freshwater pools or depressions containing rainwater, quarries, and rock pools along rivers. Ongoing threats are present from widespread destruction of habitat, the expanding human population and the degradation of surface waters in the Orange River watershed, which actions have been occurring over the last quarter of the twentieth century to present.


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Distribution

Poyntonophrynus vertebralis is restricted to central South Africa, and proximate to the Botswana border, occurring mainly in the Nama Karoo ecoregion; the species is additionally found in the Drakensberg alti-montane ecoregion and the Highveld grasslands of the middle reaches of the Orange River.. (Hogan. 2013) Apparently isolated populations are perhaps part of a contiguous range. It is likely to be found in southern Botswana. It is chiefly found below 1500 metres above mean sea level. (Minter et al. 2004)


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Morphology

The following is from the original description by Smith (1848):

BUFO VERTEBRALIS.-SMITH.
REPTILIA.-PLATE LXVIII.-FIG. II. AND II A.
B. superne flavo-griseus fasciis maculisva griseo-brunneo variegatis, illis labeculis griseis ornatis; infra ochreus maculie parvis nigris notatis; scuta palpebrali postice, dorso, estremitatibusque externe tuberculatis; partibus inferioribus granulosis. Macula interscapulari magna grlseo-alba.

COLOUR. The upper surface of the head, back, and the sides intermediate between ash grey and yellowish grey, the two last named parts variegated with waved longitudinal streaks or irregular blotches of a colour intermediate between broccoli-brown and brownish red. The dark blotches are thinly sprinkled with small circular ash-grey spots, some of which, in every specimen, are surrounded with a narrow liver-brown ring. The outer surface of the fore-legs are pale yellowish grey, faintly barred with livid green; the outer and posterior surfaces of the hinder Jegs the same colour as the back, and distinctly banded transversely with broccoli-brown. From the nose, a narrow blackish green line extends on each side of the head to theanterior extremity of the ocular shield, where it divides into two branches, one extends downward in front of the eye, the other inwards and backward along the inner edge of the shield; the latter is also crossed by a narrow bar of the same colour. Spot between the forelegs in the course of the vertebral column bluish white. Eyes deep blackish green, the pupil surrounded by a narrow ring of brassy green. The under surface of the head and body ochrey yellow; the inner surface of the extremities pale greenish yellow; the breast and belly anteriorly speckled with small liver-brown spots.

FORM. Head small, subconical and rather narrow; sides of body protuberant; extremities short and slender. The first or outer, the third and the inner toes of the forefeet, nearly of equal length, the second considerably longer; the outer and third toes of the hinder feet of equal length, the fourth rather shorter, and the fifth or innermost still shorter, the second about double the length of the first; they are all free at their base. The under surface of the feet is thinly sprinkled with small oblong hard tubercles, and two on each foot are larger than the rest, one a little behind the base of the inner toe, the other of the outer toe. Nose slightly rounded, the nostrils at its apex, one on each side, the opening directed outwards and forwards. Eyeshields rather prominent, eyes small and rather deeply set, tympanum small, projecting, and almost completely encircled by a prominent ring. Parotid glands rather indistinct, irregularly shaped, and close to the tympanum. Ocular shields posteriorly covered more or less with small tubercles. Back, in some individuals, with numerous small hemispherical warts, in other with only a few towards the head; the outer surface of the extremities also more or less warty. The under surface of the body granular, the granulations of the hinder part of the abdomen and the pubic region largest. Tongue full, ovate, the last half free, and behind entire; inner opening of nostrils circular, and immediately in front of the floor of the eyes. Opening of Eustachian tube rather large, and a little behind the angle of the mouth. Length from the point of the nose to the hinder extremity of the back, one inch four lines.


In the interior districts of Southern Africa, north-east of the Cape Colony, specimens of this species were obtained in considerable abundance. They were usually found in situations abounding with brushwood, generally under or amongst decayed leaves. They had all the habits of a true toad: fully twenty individuals came ander my observation, the majority of which were about an inch and a qaarter in length; the others were mach smaller and evidently yoang. As so many specimens were seen of the largest size, and as not a few of them were obtained at different seasons of the year, I am disposed to believe the individual figured had attained mature age.


Author: Zimkus, Breda
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Size

Snout to vent length is approximately 1.25 inches. (Smith. 1848)


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Diagnostic Description

This anuran is smallish with a narrow subconical head. The upper surface of the head, back, and the sides display an intermediate colour between ash grey and yellowish grey, the dorsum and sides variegated with wavy longitudinal streaks or irregular blotches of a colour intermediate between broccoli-brown and brownish red. The dark blotches are thinly sprinkled with small circular ash-grey spots, some of which are surrounded with a narrow liver-brown ring. The outer surface of the forelegs manifest pale yellow-grey, faintly barred with livid green; the outer and posterior surfaces of the hind legs the same colour as the back, and distinctly banded transversely with broccoli-brown. From the nose, a narrow blackish green line extends on each side of the head to theanterior extremity of the ocular shield.


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Habitat and Ecology

According to the IUCN 2004 analysis, this terrestrial species lives in Nama Karoo shrubland, grassland, dry savannah and pastureland. It breeds in temporary shallow pans, freshwater pools or depressions containing rainwater, quarries, and rock pools along rivers. (Minter et al. 2004) However, more recent compilation of observations indicates that P. vertebralis is additionally found in the Drakensberg alti-montane ecoregion and the Highveld grasslands of the middle reaches of the Orange River. (Hogan. 2013)


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status

As of 2004 the IUCN has classified P. vertebralis as a species of Least Concern (Least Concern ver 3.1); (Minter et al. 2004) however, the criteria utilized did not explicitly recognize the widespread destruction of habitat, the expanding human population and the degradation of surface waters in the Orange River watershed which have been occurring over the last quarter of the twentieth century to 2013. (Hogan. 2013)


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Threats

In some places P. vertebralis is negatively impacted by maize farming, (Minter et al. 2004) In a larger sense the taxon is threatened by the rapidly expanding human population of the region, and the steady intensification of agriculture, which not only converts habitat to farming, but also extracts important surface waters from aquatic habitat. Furthermore, the use of herbicides and pesticides for crops poses additional threats. (Hogan. 2013)


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Conservation Actions and Management

There are several protected areas within the species range. In the headwaters of the Orange River in Lesotho there is specifically the Sehlabathebe National Park. Near Kimberley, South Africa is the Mokala National Park, where it also is found. (Hogan. 2013)


Author: Hogan, C.Michael
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/