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Front Zool. 2007 Jan 6;4:1.

Evidence for recent gene flow between north-eastern and south-eastern Madagascan poison frogs from a phylogeography of the Mantella cowani group.

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Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Mauritskade 61, 1092 AD Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The genus Mantella, endemic poison frogs of Madagascar with 16 described species, are known in the field of international pet trade and entered under the CITES control for the last four years. The phylogeny and phylogeography of this genus have been recently subject of study for conservation purposes. Here we report on the studies of the phylogeography of the Mantella cowani group using a fragment of 453 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene from 195 individuals from 21 localities. This group is represented by five forms: M. cowani, a critically endangered species, a vulnerable species, M. haraldmeieri, and the non-threatened M. baroni, M. aff. baroni, and M. nigricans.


The Bayesian phylogenetic and haplotype network analyses revealed the presence of three separated haplotype clades: (1) M. baroni, M. aff. baroni, M. nigricans, and putative hybrids of M. cowani and M. baroni, (2) M. cowani and putative hybrids of M. cowani and M. baroni, and (3) M. haraldmeieri. The putative hybrids were collected from sites where M. cowani and M. baroni live in sympatry.


These results suggest (a) a probable hybridization between M. cowani and M. baroni, (b) a lack of genetic differentiation between M. baroni/M. aff. baroni and M. nigricans, (c) evidence of recent gene-flow between the northern (M. nigricans), eastern (M. baroni), and south-eastern (M. aff. baroni) forms of distinct coloration, and (d) the existence of at least three units for conservation in the Mantella cowani group.

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