Over 40 Years of Research on Critically Endangered Nimba Toad Summarized in New Paper; Nimba Toad Is Known for Its Exceptional Reproductive Biology

The critically endangered Nimba toad has long been known for its exceptional reproductive biology. The females of this unique species give live birth to fully developed juveniles, having for nine months continuously provided nutrition to the fetuses in the womb (matrotrophy). While live birth (viviparity) among frogs and toads is rather an exception than a common characteristic, matrotrophy, in place of alternatives such as the fetus being fed with yolk, unfertilized eggs, or smaller siblings, is what makes the Nimba toad one of a kind. However, more than 40 years of research had not been comprehensively, accessibly, and completely summarized. The gap has recently been filled with a new paper, published on February 3, 2017 in the open-access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution by German scientists Drs. Laura Sandberger-Loua and Mark-Oliver Rödel, both affiliated with Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, and Dr. Hendrik Müller, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. The article is titled “A Review of the Reproductive Biology of the Only Known Matrotrophic Viviparous Anuran, the West African Nimba Toad, Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis.” Studying the phenomenon, the scientists went through the literature published over four decades to gather the scattered details. They have also discussed the relationship between the toad's reproductive biology and its specific habitat of merely 4 km² of high altitude grasslands located at a minimum of 1,200 meters in the Nimba mountains, West Africa. The climate of the area is characterized by a rainy season lasting from April to October and a dry season from November to February/March. These seasons are found to determine the activity of the Nimba toads.
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