Microbatrachella capensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Pyxicephalidae

Scientific Name: Microbatrachella capensis (Boulenger, 1910)
Common Name(s):
English Cape Flats Frog, Micro Frog
Phrynobatrachus capensis Boulenger, 1910
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2016. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (31 March 2016). New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: A question hangs over the taxonomic significance of disjunct populations of this species (A. Channing pers. comm.).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-07-29
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG)
Reviewer(s): Luedtke, J.
Contributor(s): Channing, A., Rebelo, A., Turner, A.A., de Villiers, A., Becker, F., Harvey, J., Tarrant, J., Measey, G.J., Tolley, K., Minter, L., du Preez, L., Burger, M., Cunningham, M.J., Hopkins, R., Davies, S., Conradie, W. & Chapeta, Y.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Rebelo, A., Measey, G.J., Hobin, L.
Listed as Critically Endangered because its area of occupancy (AOO) is 7 km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in its AOO, and in the extent and quality of its habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs only in the coastal lowlands (between 10–80 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 (EOO) of 1,399 km2. However, it is now extinct on the Cape Flats near Cape Town, except for a cluster of breeding sites at Kenilworth Race course. Its eastern distribution is much more fragmented than is shown on the map (four subpopulations), since it occurs only in very isolated localities. Its AOO is 7 km2 and its EOO is 1,559 km2.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Western Cape)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:7.30Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:1559.13
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:4
Lower elevation limit (metres):10
Upper elevation limit (metres):80
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It occurs in high densities at breeding sites, which are few and far between. Historically this species was known from a greater extent in the western part of its range, with sites at Crawford, Lansdowne, Princess Vlei, Retreat, Ottery and Varkensvlei, but habitat degradation caused by development is believed to be responsible for their disappearance there (A. Rebelo pers. comm. August 2016). The spatial distribution of this species is now 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. Due to ongoing decline in the extent and quality of habitat, the population is decreasing at the localities of Betty's Bay and Kleinmond (A. de Villiers pers. comm. July 2016).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:4

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species lives in sandy, coastal lowland fynbos heathland, and it is not generally found in anthropogenic habitats. It has specialized habitat requirements associated with natural, seasonal, seepage pools and vleis, and depends on black, acidic waters for breeding. This species can tolerate very limited habitat disturbance. When their wetland habitat dries up, these frogs bury themselves in the wetland substrate and aestivate through the dry season. Eggs are attached to submerged vegetation, and larval development is slow.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no records 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 an alteration in water quality and the drying out of breeding pools), and the drainage of breeding habitats. There has been a gradual decline in habitat quality in two subpopulations (Betty's Bay and Kleinmond), and invasive alien vegetation remains a threat to all subpopulations. Three of the four subpopulations in which it occurs are under constant pressure from development.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
Agulhas National Park is the only statutory protected area in which this species occurs, although it is also present in various other local authority and private nature reserves.

Conservation Needed
Additional habitat protection is needed in view of the species’ fragmented distribution.

Research Needed
As its name implies, it is a very small frog and this research can be challenging. However, high priority should be given to resolution of the taxonomic status of disjunct populations. A further priority is to continue with the systematic monitoring of breeding activity by estimating the number of calling frogs at the breeding sites for this species.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG). 2017. Microbatrachella capensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T13318A77158116. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
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