Alytes logo

The tadpoles of Scaphiophryne gottlebei (Microhylidae: Scaphiophryninae) and Mantella expectata (Mantellidae: Mantellinae) from Isalo Massif, south-central Madagascar

Article published in volume 23 fascicle 3, of 03/2006, pages 81 - 95



The tadpoles of the microhylid Scaphiophryne gottlebei and of the mantellid Mantella expectata from the Isalo Massif (south-central Madagascar) are described and compared with already known tadpoles belonging to the same genera. The tadpole of S. gottlebei is peculiar in having the oral apparatus with a horny beak surrounded by dermal papillae, and a spiracle in intermediate position, between ventral and lateral. Furthermore, it shows unique feeding habits and a peculiar associated behaviour. During the day it stays close to the bottom and often burrows half of the body into the sand with the tail obliquely upwards; in this position it ingests organic material from among the substrate particles. During night time the tadpole leaves the bottom and swims throughout the water column. Since this tadpole cannot be included in any of the currently known ecomorphological categories we create a new category for this species, the psammonektonic tadpole. Mantella expectata was often found in the same environments, although it appears to prefer more open habitats. In some cases, tadpoles of both species were found together, although M. expectata usually prefers small and temporary streams for reproduction. The mantella tadpoles were also found in quite open savannah areas. The tadpole morphology agrees in general with that of other mantellas, mainly of the M. betsileo group, and is of the generalized ranoid type.