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Morphological and ecological convergence at the lower size limit for vertebrates highlighted by five new miniaturised microhylid frog species from three different Madagascan genera.

ORCID
0000-0002-4613-7761
Affiliation/Institute
Sektion Herpetologie, Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM-SNSB), München, Germany.
Scherz, Mark D.;
Affiliation/Institute
Biodiversity Institute and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, United States of America.
Hutter, Carl R.;
GND
1184815429
Affiliation/Institute
Division of Evolutionary Biology, Zoologisches Institut, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.
Rakotoarison, Andolalao;
Affiliation/Institute
Institute of Zoology, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Riemann, Jana C.;
Affiliation/Institute
Museum für Naturkunde-Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Berlin, Germany.
Rödel, Mark-Oliver;
Affiliation/Institute
Mention Zoologie et Biodiversité Animale, Université d'Antananarivo, Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Ndriantsoa, Serge H;
Affiliation/Institute
Institute of Zoology, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Glos, Julian;
Affiliation/Institute
SEED Madagascar, London, United Kingdom.
Hyde Roberts, Sam;
ORCID
0000-0002-8505-3050
Affiliation/Institute
CIBIO, Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO, Campus Agrário de Vairão, Universidade do Porto, Vairão, Portugal.
Crottini, Angelica;
ORCID
0000-0003-0747-0817
Affiliation/Institute
Division of Evolutionary Biology, Zoologisches Institut, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.
Vences, Miguel;
Affiliation/Institute
Sektion Herpetologie, Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM-SNSB), München, Germany.
Glaw, Frank

Miniaturised frogs form a fascinating but poorly understood amphibian ecomorph and have been exceptionally prone to taxonomic underestimation. The subfamily Cophylinae (family Microhylidae), endemic to Madagascar, has a particularly large diversity of miniaturised species which have historically been attributed to the single genus Stumpffia largely based on their small size. Recent phylogenetic work has revealed that several independent lineages of cophyline microhylids evolved towards highly miniaturised body sizes, achieving adult snout-vent lengths under 16 mm. Here, we describe five new species belonging to three clades that independently miniaturised and that are all genetically highly divergent from their relatives: (i) a new genus (Mini gen. nov.) with three new species from southern Madagascar, (ii) one species of Rhombophryne, and (iii) one species of Anodonthyla. Mini mum sp. nov. from Manombo in eastern Madagascar is one of the smallest frogs in the world, reaching an adult body size of 9.7 mm in males and 11.3 mm in females. Mini scule sp. nov. from Sainte Luce in southeastern Madagascar is slightly larger and has maxillary teeth. Mini ature sp. nov. from Andohahela in southeast Madagascar is larger than its congeners but is similar in build. Rhombophryne proportionalis sp. nov. from Tsaratanana in northern Madagascar is unique among Madagascar's miniaturised frogs in being a proportional dwarf, exhibiting far less advanced signs of paedomorphism than other species of similar size. Anodonthyla eximia sp. nov. from Ranomafana in eastern Madagascar is distinctly smaller than any of its congeners and is secondarily terrestrial, providing evidence that miniaturisation and terrestriality may be evolutionarily linked. The evolution of body size in Madagascar's microhylids has been more dynamic than previously understood, and future studies will hopefully shed light on the interplay between ecology and evolution of these remarkably diverse frogs.

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