AmphibiaWeb - Platypelis mavomavo


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Platypelis mavomavo (Andreone, Fenolio & Walvoord, 2003)
Yellowish Tree Cophyline Frog (English), cofilìno arboreo giallastro (Italian), sahonkely mavomavo (Malagasy)
family: Microhylidae
subfamily: Cophylinae
genus: Platypelis
Species Description: Franco Andreone, Dante B. Fenolio, and Mark E. Walvoord 2003. Two Unknown Arboreal Frogs (genus Platypelis) Described from the Rainforests of Northeastern Madagascar (Microhylidae: Cophylinae). Current Herpetology 22(2): 91-100.

© 2005 Franco Andreone (1 of 4)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

An arboreal species of Platypelis featured by the following combination of characters: (medium adult body size (SVL 35 mm), colouration shading to yellow, with extended brownish marblings, digital expansions quite triangular in the hands and ovoidal on the feet, vestigial webbing between the toes, dorsal surface from smooth to slightly warty (Glaw and Vences 1994).

Head as long as wide; HW 34–40% of SVL; HL 33–35% SVL; snout short, slightly protruding beyond margin of lip; rounded in dorsal view (from the profile a lightly truncated); END less than ED; END 23–30% of HL; eye moderate in size; ED 34–42% of HL. Top of head quite flat; cranial crests absent; canthus rostralis indistinct; internarial area not depressed; nostrils protruding dorsally and laterally at a point above margin of lower jaw. Supratympanic fold visible, tympanum round, TD 41–47% of ED. Choanae small, round, and separated. Vomerine teeth present and posterior to choanae. Tongue trapezoid in shape with rounded edges, widest at the free margin, with a slight frontal notch. Vocal sac moderate in size, single, and in gular position. Skin on dorsum of head, body, and limbs quite smooth, although in some specimens elongated warts are visible. Ventral surfaces smooth. Cloacal opening elliptical. Forearm broad, fingers moderate in length bearing subtriangular, quite large sized discs; disc on first digit smaller than others: 1<2=4<3; subarticular tubercles faint, circular; supernumerary tubercles absent; palmar tubercle semi-distinct, not elevated. No webbing between digits of hands. Feet with semi-distinct supernumerary tubercles. Small pads on digits of feet, ovoidal in shape. Vestigial webbing between 3rd and 4th, and between 4th and 5th toes. Toe length: 1<2<5<3<4 (Glaw and Vences 1994).

After six years in preservative solution, the dorsum of this Platypelis has become typically light brownish, with scattered lighter spots and vermiculations. The legs have more or less the same colouration of the back, with some pigmented transverse areas or spots. The expansions of the hands and feet are brownish-blackish. Pupil horizontal, iris yellowish with dark punctuations. Ventrally cream-yellowish with some faint dark marbling, a little bit more visible on the throat. In life (Fig. 1), the colouration is similar in pattern, although more distinct. The yellow is conspicuously bright in live animals, and disappeared after permanence in formalin and/or ethanol. The type series consists of four specimens from Ambolokopatrika. These specimens are quite similar to the holotype in terms of morphology, and size (Glaw and Vences 1994).

Color variation appears to be widespread especially in the venter colorationn, ranging from bright yellow to gray (Rakotoarison et al 2023). Previously the venter color had been seen as diagnostic (Glaw and Vences 2007).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Species is known from North East and North Central Madagascar. In the North East, Masoala (Ambohidroina, Masomihenjina) and Ambolokopatrika (Antisinjorano) (Glaw and Vences 2007) from 875-975m asl. See Rakotoarison et al 2023 for a molecular analysis of the species.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Habits: Specimens have been found at night, climbing 2-4 m high on tree trunks (Glaw and Vences 2007).

Trends and Threats
This species is listed as endangered because its extent of occurrence is less than 5000 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in northeastern Madagascar (Andreone 2008).

Though it occurs in a protected area, the Réserve Spéciale d’Anjanaharibe-Sud, a major threat is habitat loss due to subsistence agriculture, timber extraction, charcoal manufacture, the spread of invasive eucalyptus, livestock grazing, fires, and expanding human settlements (Andreone 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Habitat fragmentation


Andreone, F. (2008). Platypelis mavomavo. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 01 May 2009.

Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (1994). A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Bonn.

Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.

Rakotoarison A, Scherz MD, Mullin KE, Crottini A, Petzold A, Ranjanaharisoa FA, Maheritafika HMR, Rafanoharana JM, Raherinjatovo H, Andreone F, Glaw F and Vences M. (2023). "Gray versus yellow ventral coloration: Identity, distribution, color polymorphism and molecular relationships of the microhylid frog Platypelis mavomavo Andreone, Fenolio & Walvoord, 2003." Zootaxa, 5352(2), 221-234. [link]

Originally submitted by: Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (first posted 2004-06-06)
Description by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2023-12-20)
Distribution by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2023-12-20)

Edited by: Catherine Aguilar, Michelle S. Koo (2023-12-20)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Platypelis mavomavo: Yellowish Tree Cophyline Frog (English) <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 15, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 15 Apr 2024.

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