The Mindanao horned frog (Megophrys stejnegeri) is a member of the large and ancient Megophryidae family, which diverged from the other amphibian families roughly 70 million years ago. More commonly known as the ‘Asian toadfrogs’, this diverse family contains around 136 species of frog, which range in size from 2 to 12.5 centimetres long (2).
Many members of the Megophryidae family have brownish or greyish patterned bodies with scattered, wart-like projections, known as ‘tubercles’, on the surface of the skin. Some species, including the Mindanao horned frog, have pointed protrusions of skin sticking out above the eyes, which, along with their cryptic body colour, enables these species to blend in with the leaves under which they hide, and camouflages them from potential predators (2).
Like other species in the genus Megophrys, the Mindanao horned frog is likely to have a large head and mouth, making it well-adapted to swallowing relatively large prey (3).
- Also known as
- Southeast Asian horned toad.
Mindanao horned frog biology
Very little is known about the specific biology of the Mindanao horned frog; however, it is likely to be similar to other species in the genus Megophrys. Most frogs in this genus are opportunistic feeders and are usually carnivorous, using their large mouths to consume a variety of organisms including worms, slugs, small mammals, and possibly even each other (3). By contrast, the tadpoles of Megophrys species obtain their nutrients by feeding on suspended particles in pools (1).
Generally, Megophrys species spend much of their time quietly hidden in leaf litter, where they hunt prey and hide from predators. However, when defending a territory against a potential rival, they have been known to rear up and inflate their lungs to make them look bigger, before screaming loudly and leaping at their opponent (2).
Members of the genus Megophrys tend to move about using short hops, as their large body size relative to their short legs makes larger jumps more difficult (4).
Mindanao horned frog range
The Mindanao horned frog is endemic to the Philippines (4). It has been observed in a number of provinces, including Basilan, Bohol, Leyte, Mindanao, Dinagat, Biliran and Samar, but it is possible that its distribution may be more extensive than this (1).
Mindanao horned frog habitat
The Mindanao horned frog spends the majority of its time hiding among detritus and leaf litter, on the floor of lowland and montane rainforests. It is generally found close to mountain streams, which it requires for breeding, and the tadpoles of this species can usually be found in secluded pools along these streams (1).
Mindanao horned frog status
The Mindanao horned frog is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Mindanao horned frog threats
The Mindanao horned frog has a relatively small distribution, and it is therefore vulnerable to a number of specific threats across its range. The primary threats to this species include logging activity in the lowland forests of the Philippines, as well as contamination of nearby mountain streams and rivers due to mining activity and agricultural runoff, which are resulting in the destruction of the Mindanao horned frog’s natural habitat (1).
Amphibian species as a whole are hugely under threat. Around 32 percent of amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction, while a further 43 percent have declining populations (5). Species that are restricted to a small geographic area, such as the Mindanao horned frog, are most at risk of extinction due to changes in their habitat, often as a result of human influence and climate change (6).
Mindanao horned frog conservation
The Mount Malindang National Park on Mindanao is currently one of the few protected areas providing a safe haven to some populations of the Mindanao horned frog (1).
However, the protection of the rest of the forested areas of the Philippines requires much work (1). Conservation International and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund have been working to support conservation and increase conservation awareness throughout the Philippines, including in areas such as East Mindanao. However, there are fears that in the already established national parks, land is being disturbed by human settlements and the boundaries of protected areas are not being properly enforced (7).
It is vitally important that more information is collected on the biology and true range of the Mindanao horned frog, in order to determine the best methods of protecting it (6).
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- Feeding on flesh.
- Cryptic colouration
- Colouration that makes animals difficult to detect against their background, so serving to reduce predation. The colouration may provide camouflage against a background, break up the outline of the body, or both.
- Litter formed from fragments of dead material.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- Of mountains, or growing in mountains.
- An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.
- A small, rounded, wart-like bump on the skin or on a bone.
IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
EDGE of Existence - Family Megophryidae (August, 2011)
Burger, R.M. (2000) Taxon Management Account: Malaysian Horned Frog. Dallas Zoo, Dallas, Texas.
AmphibiaWeb - Palawan Horned Frog, Megophrys ligayae (August, 2011)
Stuart, S.N., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A., Young, B.E., Rodrigues, A.S.L., Fischman, D.L. and Waller, R.W. (2004) Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide. Science, 306(5702): 1783-1786.
Sodhi, N.S., Bickford, D., Diesmos, A.C., Lee, T.M., Koh, L.P., Brook, B.W., Sekercioglu, C.H. and Bradshaw, C.J.A. (2008) Measuring the meltdown: drivers of global amphibian extinction and decline. PLoS ONE, 3(2): e1636.
Biodiversity Hotspots - Philippines (August 2011)