The Herpetofauna Of The Virunga Mountains With Emphasis On Two Species of Albertine Rift Endemic Treefrogs Of The Genus Leptopelis.
I present a short description of the biodiversity crisis, the Albertine Rift as a biodiversity hotspot, and a literature review of the taxonomy of the genus Leptopelis. I then present a list of the reptiles and anurans from the Parc National des Volcans (PNV)(01°43'S, 29°52'W), an area in the west and north provinces of the Republic of Rwanda in the Albertine Rift region of Africa. Fieldwork was conducted for two to six days per week from June through August of 2007 and 2008. I also conducted literature searches of all historical expeditions within the park for species records. Seventeen species of reptiles and anurans are recorded from the PNV. Nine of the species were anurans, distributed in five families: Arthroleptidae (3), Bufonidae (1), Hyperoliidae (3), Phrynobatrachidae (1), and Pipidae (1). Eight species of reptiles were recorded from five families: Chamaeleonidae (1), Lacertidae (2), Scincidae (2), Colubridae (2), and Viperidae (1). Eight of the seventeen species found in the PNV are endemic to the Albertine Rift.The previously unreported tadpole of Leptopelis karissimbensis, an endangered treefrog from Rwanda, is described. Tadpoles were collected, photographed, measured, and examined for standard metrics of tadpole morphology. Larvae of L. karissimbensis resemble other tadpoles in the genus Leptopelis in being muscular, elongate, and eel-like. The lateral tooth row formula for L. karissimbensis is 4/3. In late stage larvae, tadpoles of L. karissimbensis exhibit a prominent white spot below the eye. Larvae of this species were often abundant in suitable habitat at approximately 2800 meters in elevation. Larval habitat for L. karissimbensis includes seasonally flooded marshes, forest pools, and permanent ponds in the Virunga Mountains, the only known range of this species.I examined the taxonomy of two frequently confused Albertine Rift endemic treefrogs, Leptopelis karissimbensis and L. kivuensis. Included is a review of the literature regarding geographic distribution of the two species and historical characters used to diagnose the species from each other. We present new evidence discounting the use of some characters previously considered diagnostic for the two species. Three previously unrecognized characters, one molecular, one morphological, and one behavioral are provided for diagnostic purposes and we extend the known range of L. karissimbensis, an IUCN endangered species, to the west and south into Democratic Republic of the Congo. Based on the findings presented in this paper, we recommend that L. karissimbensis be downlisted in conservation status by the IUCN, as it does not meet the criteria to be listed as endangered.