Dhofar toad (Bufo dhufarensis)
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The Dhofar toad is one of only two amphibians in the United Arab Emirates, and, incredibly, one of just nine in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula (2) (3) (4). Exhibiting considerable variation in colour and pattern, the body of this relatively small Bufo can range from green to tan to brown, and be either mottled or uniform (2) (4). Distinctive features of this species include large, prominent eardrums positioned immediately behind the protruding eyes, and a distinctive staccato “kra-kra-kra” breeding call (2) (3) (4).
The Dhofar toad occurs throughout much of the southern Arabian Peninsula, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as on the Farasan Islands and several other offshore islands (1) (2) (4).
Found wherever there are water sources, including gardens, oases, springs, canals and small rivers, but this arid environment specialist is also frequently found some distance from permanent water bodies (1) (4).
In common with anurans from arid environments elsewhere, the Dhofar toad has the ability to aestivate underground during periods of drought. Remarkably, it can remain in this state of dormancy for as long as three years at a time (2) (4). Following heavy downpours, it emerges to seek food and potentially mate. Like other frogs and toads, it catches prey by means of a sticky, prehensile tongue, with a variety of insects being the primary target (3) (4).
Although the Dhofar toad is thought to be primarily nocturnal, there is evidence to suggest that, during favourable conditions, this opportunistic breeder may be active both day and night (4). Breeding occurs year round, with the females laying large numbers of black eggs on pearl-like strings. In the most extreme environments, where standing water is in short supply, tadpoles must develop rapidly, whilst adults may only be active for very short periods after rain (2).
Although amphibian numbers are generally in decline worldwide (2), there are not currently known to be any major threats to the Dhofar toad (1).
While there are no specific conservation measures in place, the Dhofar toad is known to be present within the Jebel Samhan Nature Reserve in Oman (1). Given current concerns over the state of amphibian populations worldwide, further research into the ecology and population dynamics of this species could prove of important value to its conservation in the future (2).
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- Aestivate: To enter a period of dormancy occurring in hot, dry periods, analogous to hibernation in winter.
- Anurans: An amphibian order comprising all frogs and toads.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
IUCN Red List (December, 2009)