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13 December 2013 Rhacophorus vampyrus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) Reproductive Biology: A New Type of Oophagous Tadpole in Asian Treefrogs
Anna B. Vassilieva, Eduard A. Galoyan, Nikolay A. Poyarkov
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We report on the reproductive biology of Rhacophorus vampyrus (Rhacophoridae, Anura) from the Lang Bian Plateau in southern Vietnam. Unlike most other members of the genus Rhacophorus, R. vampyrus is a phytotelm breeder and reproduces in water-filled tree hollows. The species shows a unique tadpole mouthpart morphology not reported for any other anurans: presence of a specific serrated horny arch on the upper jaw and two large, fang-like horny teeth on the lower jaw. This, together with the presence of a large extensible stomach and relatively short digestive tract length, indicates an adaptation toward macrophagous feeding. We observed two clutch types in R. vampyrus: fertilized eggs included in a typical foam nest and unfertilized eggs, apparently having a trophic function, enveloped by dense mucous. The digestive tracts of all tadpoles examined contained up to 40 trophic eggs and showed no remains of any other food. Keratinous mouthparts undergo considerable remodeling during tadpole development presuming the change of feeding mode in ontogeny. We speculate that these findings indicate that the tadpole of R. vampyrus is an obligatorily and highly specialized oophagous type with unique mouthpart structures. The advanced form of parental care, including the maternal provisioning of unfertilized eggs, is reported for the first time for the genus Rhacophorus and is the second documented record for the Rhacophoridae.

Anna B. Vassilieva, Eduard A. Galoyan, and Nikolay A. Poyarkov "Rhacophorus vampyrus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) Reproductive Biology: A New Type of Oophagous Tadpole in Asian Treefrogs," Journal of Herpetology 47(4), 607-614, (13 December 2013).
Accepted: 1 June 2013; Published: 13 December 2013
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