Afrixalus aureus Pickersgill, 1984
Golden Leaf-folding Frog, Golden Spiny Reed Frog, Golden Dwarf Leaf-folding Frog, Goue Stekel-rietpaddatjie (A), Goue Blaarvouendepadda (A)
Currently accepted name: Afrixalus aureus Pickersgill, 1984
Red listing status: Least Concern (2013)
Photo by Sharp A; A. Coetzer, 2013. URL: FrogMAP: 1366
This species ranges northward into southern Mozambique (Pickersgill 1984; Poynton and Broadley 1987). Within the atlas region, A. aureus is a locally abundant species that occurs from the northeastern parts of the Limpopo Province, southward through eastern Mpumalanga, central and eastern Swaziland, to northern KwaZulu-Natal.
It is usually abundant at its breeding sites and easy to identify by its call. Although A. aureus and A. delicatus are morphologically similar, their calls are quite distinct and they usually use different breeding sites. The atlas data for A. aureus are reasonably complete and reliable.
A. aureus is a savanna species which inhabits Coastal Bushveld-Grassland, a mosaic of vegetation types found from sea level to an altitude of 300 m along the coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal, as well as various other bushveld vegetation types, such as Mixed Lowveld Bushveld, at altitudes of 200–300 m, east of the eastern escarpment (Jacobsen 1989). Along the coast, it seems to prefer drier habitats than those occupied by A. delicatus and A. spinifrons and it does not usually utilize the same breeding sites as the latter species (Pickersgill 1984; M.P. pers. obs.).
Breeding takes place in seasonal or semi-permanent water bodies containing emergent vegetation such as Polygonum pulchrum, Ludwigia stolonifera and Cyperus papyrus (Backwell 1991). At most breeding sites the water is fairly shallow, rarely exceeding 50 cm in depth.
Nothing is known of the non-breeding behaviour of this species.
During the breeding season (November–February), adults can be found close to breeding sites at the margins of pans and grassy pools. The frogs may sit on emergent vegetation, usually in leaf axils or on broad-leaved shrubs, fully exposed to the sun, in a head-down position. At dusk, males take up positions a few centimetres above the water, where they begin to call, continuing until about 04:00. High-density choruses develop; these contain a relatively high proportion (50%) of satellite males and are characterized by a high level of aggression (Backwell 1991). Within the choruses, males do not form small groups, as in A. spinifrons and A. delicatus.
Amplexus is axillary, and clutches of about 50 creamy white eggs are enveloped in vertically folded leaves (often of Polygonum pulchrum or Ludwigia stolonifera) or blades of grass, 4–15 cm above the surface of the water (Jacobsen 1989; Backwell 1991; Channing 2001).
A. aureus is not considered to be threatened. Its habitat is used for stock and game farming, as well as ecotourism. It has been observed to breed in cattle waterholes, where vegetation is relatively sparse. It occurs in a number of provincial nature reserves, such as False Bay, Hluhluwe, Mkuze, Umfolozi, Nyalazi and Tembe, and in Kruger National Park.
Current distribution map
Undated records; pre-1996; 1996 to 2002; 2003 to present
FrogMAP. 2020. Afrixalus aureus Pickersgill, 1984. Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from http://frogmap.adu.org.za/?sp=10; on 2020-04-02 09:04:20.
Minter L.R., Burger M., Harrison J.A., Braack H.H., Bishop P.J. & Kloepfer D. (eds). 2004. Atlas and Red Data book of the frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SI/MAB Series no. 9. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Published by the Smithsonian Institution and the Avian Demography Unit (now Animal Demography Unit).