A re-evaluation of the phylogeny of Old World Treefrogs

  • A Channing


No consensus has yet been reached concerning Old World treefrog systematics. Competing hypotheses are based on differing and sometimes conflicting methodologies. I use cladistic methodology to reanalyse the data from the two most important recent studies. Two monophyletic groups result; Rhacophoridae and Hyperoliidae. Seven subfamilies are recognized; six are monophyletic (Hyperoliidae: Hyperoliinae, Kassininae, Leptopelinae, Tachycneminae; Rhacophoridae: Buergeriinae, Mantellinae), while the Rhacophorinae are polyphyletic. The taxonomic changes from the standard Amphibian Species of the World (Frost 1985) proposed are: Acanthixalus is removed from the Leptopelinae and placed in the Hyperoliinae. Tachycnemis is removed from the Hyperoliinae and placed in its own subfamily, Tachycneminae. Opisthothylax is removed from the Hyperoliinae and placed in the Kassininae. Afrixalus and Kassinula are removed from the Kassininae and placed in the Hyperoliinae. Aglyptodactylus is removed from the Rhacophorinae and placed in the Mantellinae. Buergeria is placed in the subfamily Buergeriinae. The Mantellinae, previously in the Ranidae, is demonstrated to be a subfamily within the Rhacophoridae. The biogeography of the group is interpreted in terms of a simplified area cladogram. The most parsimonius vicariance hypothesis proposes that the stock leading to the Hyperoliidae and Rhacophoridae existed before Pangaea broke up. The sequence of fragmentation events leading to the present-day distribution started with the Seychelles, then Asia split from Africa+Madagascar, and finally Africa and Madagascar separated.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020