Our treasure of the month: The African clawed frog

© LIB, Flecks

© LIB, Flecks

 

It has the potential to conquer almost half of Europe: The African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, originates from southern Africa. The species has been used in the past as a pregnancy test and model organism for various fields of research, which resulted in the fact that escaped or even abandoned clawed frogs could establish invasive populations on four other continents. There are now several populations in France, Italy and Portugal

The African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, originates from southern Africa. The species has been used in the past as a pregnancy test and model organism for various fields of research, which resulted in the fact that escaped or even abandoned clawed frogs could establish invasive populations on four other continents. There are now several populations in France, Italy and Portugal.

In those countries, the non-native species is wreaking havoc as a food competitor and predator. In addition, the clawed frog is considered a carrier of the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which is deadly to amphibians and is one of the main causes of amphibian mortality worldwide.

Two million square kilometers in Europe are suitable habitat for the clawed frog, which is just under half of the entire continent. In France at least, introduced animals seem to have already developed adaptations to the local climate and are on the rise.

The frogs live almost exclusively in water. Thus their calls are not well audible. Therefore the knowledge about the distribution of the species in Germany or other European countries is incomplete.The INVAXEN (INVAsive biology of XENopus laevis in Europe: ecology, impact and predictive models) project is an integrated approach combining ecological research, molecular genetics and macroecological approaches to investigate the African Clawed Frogs’ ecology, physiology, invasive potential and dispersal patterns across Belgium, France and Portugal.

 

More information:
Ginal, P., M. Mokhatla, N. Kruger, J. Secondi, A. Herrel, J. Measey, and D. Rödder. 2021. Ecophysiological models for global invaders: Is Europe a big playground for the African clawed frog? Journal of Experimental Zoology – Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology 2020: 158-172.
Link: https://doi.org/10.1002/jez.2432

Ginal, P., F. D. Moreira, R. Marques, R. Rebelo, and D. Rödder. 2021. Predicting terrestrial dispersal corridors of the invasive African clawed frog Xenopus laevis in Portugal. NeoBiota 64: 103–118.
Link: https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.64.60004

Courant, J., S. Vogt, R. Marques, J. Measey, J. Secondi, R. Rebelo, A. De Villiers, F. Ihlow, C. De Busschere, T. Backeljau, D. Rödder and A. Herrel. 2017. Are invasive populations characterized by a broader diet than native populations? The case study of an invasive anuran. PeerJ 5:e3250.
Link: https://peerj.com/articles/3250/

 

Contact:
Dr. Dennis Rödder
Curator Herpetology
+49 228 9122-252
d.roedder@leibniz-lib.de

Philipp Ginal
PhD Herpetology
philipp.ginal@gmx.de

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