Leptodactylus fallax 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Leptodactylidae

Scientific Name: Leptodactylus fallax Müller, 1926
Common Name(s):
English Mountain Chicken, Giant Ditch Frog
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6 (27 January 2014). New York, USA. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2ace ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2008-12-19
Assessor(s): John Fa, Blair Hedges, Beatrice Ibéné, Michel Breuil, Robert Powell, Christopher Magin
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Critically Endangered because of a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last ten years, inferred from the apparent disappearance of most of the population due to chytridiomycosis and volcanic eruptions.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs mostly on the western side of Dominica (there is a more limited population-possibly translocated or reintroduced-on the eastern side, but not mapped here) and in the Centre Hills of northern Montserrat, having been unsuccessfully introduced on Jamaica and Puerto Rico. It has apparently been extirpated from Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St Kitts, and might once also have occurred on St Lucia and Antigua. Its range is now restricted on Dominica to around 25 km² and to about 20 km² on Montserrat. It is a relatively low-altitude species on Dominica, occurring from sea level up to (rarely) 400 m asl. On Montserrat it is present from sea level to 430 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Dominica; Montserrat
Regionally extinct:
Guadeloupe; Martinique; Saint Kitts and Nevis
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):430
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species might have been in decline on Montserrat since Cyclone Hugo in 1989 and the Soufriere volcanic eruption of 1995, but analysis of census data does not confirm this (J. Fa pers. comm.). The population on the eastern Centre Hills of Montserrat is relatively inaccessible, and is consequently larger. On Dominica it was formerly abundant in suitable habitat (possibly as recently as 2002), despite heavy exploitation for food (estimated annual harvest of 8,000-36,000 animals), but the population started to crash during 2002 with few individuals reported in 2003, and it might now be nearing extinction with a population suggested to be as low as 8,000 animals (Magin 2004).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species lives in dense secondary vegetation, plantations (Dominica only), ravines, and flooded forest. It is terrestrial and nocturnal, hiding in burrows during the day in moist forest. It appears as though the animals are associated with certain soil types that allow the digging of nests. The eggs are laid in foam nests at the bottom of a burrow. The tadpoles (26-43 per nest) develop terrestrially in the nest, not in water. Both females and males guard the nest. The larvae feed on infertile eggs deposited in the nest burrow by the female.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It has long been heavily used for food at a subsistence and national level.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is consumed by humans and is prized for its meat (both subsistence and commercial use for tourists), which has contributed to its decline. Substantial habitat loss is also taking place over much of its range due to agriculture, human settlement and pressure from touristic development. On Montserrat, populations in the South Soufriere Hills, Soufriere Hills and Garibaldi Hill have been lost to lava flows from recent volcanic eruptions. The population of Dominica, where the species was once most abundant, has declined catastrophically from 2002 until the present, following a major confirmed outbreak of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. This decline is continuing and appears to have significantly impacted most, if not all, of the population in that country.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The protected areas of Dominica are generally above the maximum known elevation of the species and contain few, if any, animals. Captive populations occur in Jersey (Montserrat origin), St Louis (Dominican origin) and some other zoos. No hunting of animals on Dominica has been allowed since 2003, and public awareness actions have taken place to inform the Dominican public of the magnitude of threat facing their national dish and to discourage illegal hunting.

Citation: John Fa, Blair Hedges, Beatrice Ibéné, Michel Breuil, Robert Powell, Christopher Magin. 2010. Leptodactylus fallax. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T57125A11586775. . Downloaded on 20 November 2017.
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