Organisms Diversity & Evolution 2 (2002)
Electronic Supplement 4

Hans-Christian Schaefer, Miguel Vences, Michael Veith:
Molecular phylogeny of Malagasy poison frogs, genus Mantella (Anura: Mantellidae): homoplastic evolution of colour pattern in aposematic amphibians.

print version: Org. Divers. Evol. 2(2): 109-117. 2002 (full article)
electr. suppl.:
Part 1. Colour pictures of investigated frogs. pdf-format, 860 KB
Part 2. NEXUS-file for phylogenetic analysis. txt-format, 60 KB


We studied the evolution of colour pattern in Malagasy poison frogs, genus Mantella, a group of diurnal and toxic frogs endemic to Madagascar. Based on a phylogeny reconstructed using 1130 bp of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene, the genus can be divided into five species groups. Within some of these groups, inter-specific genetic divergences were very low (1.2 - 2.8% sequence divergence) while colour patterns were markedly different. In contrast, Mantella madagascariensis and M. baroni, two species which show extremely similar dorsal coloration patterns, were not included in the same clade. This conclusion was supported by high bootstrap values and by significant rejection of alternative topologies using KH-tests. Analysis of colour patterns and tentative reconstruction of ancestral states yielded five character states shared by these two species but not by their respective sister species, M. aurantiaca and M. nigricans. Considering these detailed similarities as symplesiomorphic therefore requires the assumption of multiple reversals in other species, whereas a homoplastic colour evolution in the sympatric M. madagascariensis and M. baroni appears as most parsimonious. This parallelism may have been triggered by Müllerian mimicry. However, additional data is necessary to support this hypothesis.

Key words: Amphibia, Mantellidae, Madagascar, 16S rRNA, phylogeny, aposematism, mimicry

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A. Mantella cowani group

Mantella cowani   Fig. 1: Mantella cowani

Mantella haraldmeieri    Fig. 2: Mantella haraldmeieri

Mantella nigricans    Fig. 3: Mantella nigricans

Mantella baroni    Fig. 4: Mantella baroni

B. Mantella madagascariensis group

Mantella madagascariensis    Fig. 5: Mantella madagascariensis

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Mantella aurantiaca    Fig. 6: Mantella aurantiaca

Mantella crocea    Fig. 7: Mantella crocea

Mantella milotympanum    Fig. 8: Mantella milotympanum

Mantella pulchra    Fig. 9: Mantella pulchra

C. Mantella bernhardi group

Mantella bernhardi    Fig. 10: Mantella bernhardi

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D. Mantella betsileo group

Mantella betsileo    Fig. 11: Mantella betsileo

Mantella viridis    Fig. 12: Mantella viridis

Mantella expectata    Fig. 13: Mantella expectata

Mantella manery    Fig. 14: Mantella manery

E. Mantella laevigata group

Mantella laevigata    Fig. 15: Mantella laevigata

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