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Melanophryniscus admirabilis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AMPHIBIA ANURA BUFONIDAE

Scientific Name: Melanophryniscus admirabilis
Species Authority: Di-Bernardo, Maneyro & Grillo, 2006
Common Name(s):
English Red-belly toad
Taxonomic Notes: Melanophryniscus admirabilis differs from other similar species by a combination of morphological features and colour patterns (Di-Bernardo et al., 2006).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-05-16
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Luedtke, J.
Contributor(s): Zank, C., Fonte, L., Borges-Martins, M., Abadie, M., Maneyro, R. & Mendes, T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Angulo, A.
Justification:
Listed as Critically Endangered because it is known from a restricted extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO), it is known from a single threat-defined location, and there is a continuing decline in the number of mature individuals due to collection and a projected continuing decline in its habitat due to the impact in the water cycle that would be expected from the construction and implementation of a small hydroelectric power plant in the Forqueta river of Rio Grande do Sul.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This is a microendemic species known only from its type locality. It occurs in a narrow area along 700 m of the margins of the Forqueta River, in Perau de Janeiro, Municipality of Arvorezinha, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, between about 400 and 616 m asl (Di-Bernardo et al. 2006, M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Its range, taken as a proxy for extent of occurrence (EOO), is estimated to be 0.035 km2, and it area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be the same (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Attempts to locate new subpopulations in several potential sites along the Forqueta river basin in 2011 were unfruitful, strongly corroborating previous information on the very restricted distribution of this species (Zank et al. 2012). Given current knowledge, this species is considered to occur in a single threat-defined location based on the potentially high risk to the entire population comprised by the establishment of a hydroelectric power plant (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). 

Countries:
Native:
Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is frequently encountered along the margins of the river Forqueta; however, its restricted EOO and AOO suggest that the population is circumscribed and very small (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). There is no information on past and current population fluctuations and trends, although recent accounts by local inhabitants suggest that it is being collected by visitors (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012), which suggest a continuing decline in the number of mature individuals. There is also a plausible strong projected decrease in the next years due to the planned installation of a small hydroelectric power plant (SHP) in the river (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species inhabits exclusively a small area of riparian forests along the steep slopes of the margins of the Forqueta River, in the southern extreme of the Atlantic Forest, in an area located in the transitional zone between seasonal and Araucaria moist forests (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Reproductive sites are located just along the margins, and individuals were never found more than 50 m away from the river (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012)The course of the river in the area flows over some rapids and waterfalls and the margins are formed by basaltic rocks (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Still little is known about the natural history of this species. Small pools on exposed rocks of the river margins are used as reproductive sites and the availability of such places depends on river level (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). The only published observations regarding its natural history indicates that reproductive activity may occur in October (Di-Bernardo et al. 2006). Nevertheless, an ongoing study indicates that reproduction occurs mainly in the spring, even though spawning and tadpoles were observed in other seasons, even in the winter, indicating that the reproduction period may be longer than originally suggested (Zank et al. 2012, M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Clutch size comprises an average of about 20 eggs, and each mating pair lays more than one clutch in apparently different pools (Zank et al. 2012, M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. May 2013).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This toad is found in a touristic area, and there are recent accounts by local inhabitants that it is being collected by visitors (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. May 2013). In addition, given that this species has been the focus of much media attention in the state of Rio Grande do Sul due to the situation involving the development of the small hydroelectric power plant, and given that pictures and precise locality information were disclosed through the media, it would not be surprising that it finds itself in the pet trade, which would comprise an important and continuing impact to its survival in the wild (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. May 2013). In general, species of this genus have high potential for use as pets or for bioprospection, such as other anuran species which are toxic and/or present aposematic coloration, which could result in illegal collection and traffic of native individuals (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to this toad is the installation of a small hydroelectric power plant (SHP Perau de Janeiro) a few meters upstream from where this species is found (Abadie et al. 2011, Zank et al. 2012). The SHP Perau de Janeiro has already received the first of three licenses provided by the environmental agency responsible (August 2010) and the area is now being prepared for the beginning of installation (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). While the installation of the SHP will occur a few hundred metres upstream from the species' range and the reservoir formation would not impact the species directly, the energy demand-driven water flow following the installation is projected to have a continuous and permanent impact on the only known existing population, which is adapted to the natural variations in water level (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. May 2013).  Also, given the microendemism of the species, the SHP installation activities themselves have potential to severely impact the population. Moreover, alterations in the Forqueta river flow and possible environmental changes on its margins may even have more deleterious consequences to the species. The reproductive sites of the species are located along the river margins and their availability is clearly associated with natural fluctuations in the river flow (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Additionally, while tobacco and eucalyptus plantations and livestock production occur in the region and account for the observed forest fragmentation, the area where the species is found is surrounded by very steep slopes and is therefore not directly impacted by these activities (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. May 2013). The Rio Grande do Sul State Environmental Agency (Fundação Estadual de Proteção Ambiental-RS), which is responsible for licensing, did not require any monitoring activity that could assess possible impacts of installation and/or operation of the SHP, even though the species was recorded in the obligatory Environmental Impact Report (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Another potential threat, still not quantified, is the contamination by pesticides used on tobacco crops near the species' range, along the Forqueta River basin (Abadie et al. 2011, Zank et al. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Since 2010, the Fundação Grupo o Boticário is supporting the project entitled “Assessment of the conservation status of the rare red-bellied-toad Melanophryniscus admirabilis (Anura, Bufonidae)”, carried out by the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, which has collected data on the species' occurrence, population structure and habitat use, generating concrete data to assess the conservation status and to elaborate an action plan  (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). The information gathered during this project resulted in the species' inclusion in the National Action Plan for the Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles in South Brazil (BRASIL 2012, Portaria Nº 25). The species does not occur within the limits of any conservation unit (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). While it was recently assessed as Critically Endangered at the national level, it still needs to be officially published by the Ministry of the Environment, so it currently has no legal status (L.F. Marin da Fonte pers. comm. April 2013). In spite of the potential impacts that the SHP Perau de Janeiro installation may cause to this toad, the licensing agency has not demanded any specific actions for monitoring or preserving this species (M. Borges-Martins, C. Zank, M. Abadie, L.F. Fonte and T. Mendes pers. comm. June 2012). Given this scenario, the conservation of this species' habitat is an urgent priority, as is the development of the legal instruments needed to ensure that its habitat is safeguarded and the species is not driven to extinction. Population monitoring is also needed so as to track the population status of this highly restricted microendemic amphibian.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2013. Melanophryniscus admirabilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 November 2014.
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