Alytes almogavarii Arntzen & García-París, 1995
Catalan Midwife Toad
|Species Description: Arntzen JW, García-París M. 1995. Morphological and allozyme studies of Midwife Toads (genus Alytes), including the description of two new taxa from Spain. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde/ Contributions to Zoology. Amsterdam 65: 5–34.|
Taxonomic Notes: Raised to full species ("distinct incipient species") by Dufresnes C, Martínez- Solano I. 2020. Hybrid zone genomics supports candidate species in Iberian Alytes obstetricans. Amphibia-Reptilia 41: 105–112.
Alytes almogavarii is a small, stocky toad that has a body length of about 5 cm. It has large bulging eyes with a vertical pupil and warty skin. The parotoids are thin, the tympanum is visible, and there are three rounded metacarpal tubercles with one small olive-shaped metatarsal tubercle (Dufresnes and Hernandez 2021). The fingers are not webbed and have relative lengths of III > II = IV > I. The toes have relative lengths of IV > III > II = V > I (Arntzen and Garcia-Paris 1995).
The green coloration on the flanks with the orange spots on the warts seem to be characteristic of A. almogavarii, however, there have been no thorough phenotypic analyses. Because of this, the main distinguisher for this species is genetic (Dufresnes and Hernandez 2021).
In life, the dorsal side is whitish to pale gray and is covered by irregular greenish blotches that reach down the flanks. The dorsolateral warts have a pale orange color that can extend outside the warts. The ventral side is white with darker spots on the throat and chest (Dufresnes and Hernandez 2021).
Alytes almogavarii is comprised of two subspecies: A. a. almogavarii and A. a. inigoi. There are no morphological differences, but they have been separated based on distribution and a nDNA and mtDNA analysis (Dufresnes and Martinez-Solano 2021).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: France, Spain
Alytes almogavarii has populations in the Northeastern corner of Iberia north of the Ebro river, mainly in Spain with several populations in Southeastern France (Gonçalves et al. 2015). Alytes almogavarii inigoi is in the Northern part of the Huesca province in the Spanish Central Pyrenees (Dufresnes and Hernandez 2021).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Like others in the genus, the adults are crepuscular and nocturnal, and live terrestrially near bodies of water. They are often hidden under stones or in rock cracks where the males do their call (Dufresnes and Hernandez 2021).
This genus exhibits well-known male parental care. Breeding behavior begins with the male calling to the female, seizing the female in the lumbar region, and stimulating the cloaca with his toes for about 35 minutes. This is followed by the female laying a string shaped egg mass with the eggs linearly connected to each other. The male takes an axillary hold and inseminates the eggs with a liquid sperm mass. The male then uses his hind legs to pile the egg mass on his back and wrap the string of eggs around his hind legs. He is able to carry up to four egg clutches in this way. The male carries the eggs for three weeks and keeps them moist by taking short baths (Schleich et al. 1996).
The larvae hatch once the male has enters water and they are 14 - 17 mm long, which is about after 3 weeks (Schleich et al. 1996).
Trends and Threats
The biggest threat to this species is habitat destruction due to urbanization; however, they are also threatened by herbicides and pesticides, predatory invasive species (including several species of turtles and fish), diseases (such as chytridiomycosis and ranavirus), and road mortality (IUCN 2022).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Originally classified as a subspecies of Alytes obstetricans based on morphological and allozyme data in a 1995 analysis, A. almogavarii has since been raised to species level by a 2020 Principal Component Analysis using previously collected mtDNA samples (Arntzen and Garcia-Paris 1995; Dufresnes and Martinez-Solano 2020). The subspecies, A. a. inigoi, was differentiated based on a 2021 nDNA and mtDNA analysis using samples from Maia-Carvalho et al. (2018) (Dufresnes and Martinez-Solano 2020).
Through a 2023 Bayesian analysis using previous samples from Maia-Carvalho et al. (2014) as well as new samples, past hybridization between A. a. almogavarii and A. o. obstetricans has been shown, as well as a hybridization event between the two that created A. o. pertinax. In this same analysis, A. almogavarii was shown to be sister to A. obstetricans, the two of which form a clade that is sister to the rest of the genus (Ambu et al. 2023).
The species name, ‘almogavarii’ is derived from the word, "Almogávares", which is the name for the medieval warriors of the kingdom of Aragón that were in the region where this species occurs (Dufresnes and Martinez-Solano 2020).
The subspecies, A. a. inigoi, was named after Dr. Íñigo Martínez-Solano, a specialist of Iberian herpetofauna and leading researcher of Alytes phylogeography and systematics. He was the first to report on the lineage and the holotype was collected on his birthday (Dufresnes and Hernandez 2021).
Ambu, J., Martínez-Solano, Í., Suchan, T., Hernandez, A., Wielstra, B., Crochet, P., and Dufresnes, C. (2023). Genomic phylogeography illuminates deep cyto-nuclear discordances in midwife toads (Alytes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 183, 107783. [link]
Arntzen, J. W., and García-París, M. (1995). Morphological and allozyme studies of Midwife Toads (genus Alytes), including the description of two new taxa from Spain. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde/ Contributions to Zoology. Amsterdam 65, 5–34. [link]
Dufresnes, C. and Hernandez, A. (2021). Phylogeographic advances in midwife toads (Alytes) support the existence of a novel taxon endemic to the Central Pyrenees. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 59, 2170–2179. [link]
Dufresnes C, Martínez-Solano I. (2020). Hybrid zone genomics supports candidate species in Iberian Alytes obstetricans. Amphibia-Reptilia 41, 105–112. [link]
Gonçalves, H., B. Maia-Carvalho, T. Sousa-Neves, M. García-París, F. Sequeira, N. Ferrand de Almeida, and Í. Martínez-Solano. (2015). Multilocus phylogeography of the common midwife toad, Alytes obstetricans (Anura, Alytidae): Contrasting patterns of lineage diversification and genetic structure in the Iberian refugium. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 93, 363–379 [link]
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. (2022). Alytes almogavarii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T178592041A194374646. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2022-1.RLTS.T178592041A194374646.en. Accessed on 02 August 2023.
Maia-Carvalho, B., Gonçalves, H., Ferrand, N., and Martínez-Solano, I. (2014). Multilocus assessment of phylogenetic relationships in Alytes (Anura, Alytidae). Molecular Phylogeentics and Evolution, 79, 270–278. [link]
Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
Originally submitted by: Nessa Kmetec (2023-09-12)
Description by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-09-12)
Distribution by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-09-12)
Life history by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-09-12)
Larva by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-09-12)
Trends and threats by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-09-12)
Comments by: Nessa Kmetec (updated 2023-09-12)
Edited by: Nessa Kmetec, Michelle S. Koo (2023-09-18)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Alytes almogavarii: Catalan Midwife Toad <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/9138> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 25, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 25 Sep 2023.
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