Microbatrachella capensis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Microbatrachella capensis
Species Authority: (Boulenger, 1910)
Common Name(s):
English Cape Flats Frog
Taxonomic Notes: A question hangs over the taxonomic significance of disjunct populations of this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-10-13
Assessor(s): South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG), IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hillers, A. & Diesmos, A.C.
Contributor(s): Channing, A., Turner, A., de Villiers, A., Harvey, J., Tarrant, J., Measey, J., Tolley, K., Minter, L., du Preez, L., Burger, M., Cunningham, M. & Davies, S.
Listed as Critically Endangered because its area of occupancy is 7 km², its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in its area of occupancy, and in the extent and quality of its habitat.
2004 Critically Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs only in the coastal lowlands (from 15 m up to 80 m asl) in the south-western part of Western Cape province, South Africa, where it formerly ranged from Cape Town east to the Agulhas Plain (with an extent of occurrence of 1,399 km²). However, it is now extinct on the Cape Flats near Cape Town, except at one locality at Kenilworth Race Course. Its eastern distribution is much more fragmented than is shown on the map (four locations), since it occurs only in very isolated localities (area of occupancy 7.36 km², which is considered to be declining).
South Africa (Western Cape)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It occurs at high densities at breeding sites, which are few and far between. The spatial distribution of this species is considered to be severely fragmented as over 50% of individuals are in isolated patches, and the distances between subpopulations are considered to be too great for dispersal within one generation.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species lives in sandy, coastal fynbos heathland, and it is not generally found in anthropogenic habitats. It is associated with seepage pools and seasonal vleis, and depends on black, acidic waters for breeding. Providing that the water remains of this quality, it can tolerate very limited habitat disturbance. When their wetland habitat dries up, they bury themselves and aestivate through the dry season. Eggs are attached to submerged vegetation, and larval development is slow.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no reports of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It has a very restricted range in an area that is subject to the impacts of urbanization, agricultural expansion, the spread of alien vegetation (leading to drying out of breeding pools), and drainage of breeding habitats. Three of the four locations in which it occurs are under constant pressure from development.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: High priority should be given to resolution of the taxonomic status of disjunct populations. A further priority for research conservation action is to obtain accurate monitoring through calls of males for this species. As its name implies, it is a very small frog and this research will be challenging. Agulhas National Park is the only statutory protected area in which it occurs, although it is also present in various other local authority and private nature reserves. However, additional habitat protection is needed in view of the species’ fragmented distribution.

Citation: South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG), IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2011. Microbatrachella capensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 31 March 2015.
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