Hyperoliidae Laurent, 1943

Class: Amphibia > Order: Anura > Family: Hyperoliidae
228 species

Hyperoliinae Laurent, 1943, Bull. Mus. R. Hist. Nat. Belg., 19: 16. Type genus: Hyperolius Rapp, 1842.

HyperoliidaeLaurent, 1951, Rev. Zool. Bot. Afr., 45: 119.

HyperoliiniLaurent, 1972, Copeia, 1972: 201.

Kassinini Laurent, 1972, Copeia, 1972: 201. Type genus: Kassina Girard, 1853. Synonymy by Vences, Kosuch, Glaw, Böhme, and Veith, 2003, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 41: 212.

KassininaeDubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 261.

KassininiDubois, 1987 "1986", Alytes, 5: 34.

Tachycneminae Channing, 1989, S. Afr. J. Zool., 24: 127. Type genus: Tachycnemis Fitzinger, 1843. Synonymy by Vences, Kosuch, Glaw, Böhme, and Veith, 2003, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 41: 212.

English Names

African Reed Frogs (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 65).

Tree Frogs (Channing, 2001, Amph. Cent. S. Afr.: v).


Africa and nearby islands south of the Sahara; Madagascar; Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.


As conceived by Laurent, 1951, Rev. Zool. Bot. Afr., 45: 119, Hyperoliidae contained Astylosterninae, Arthroleptinae, Hemisotinae (as Hemisinae), Hyperoliinae, and, provisionally, Scaphiophryninae. See discussion under Arthroleptidae. Liem, 1970, Fieldiana, Zool., 57: 1-145, suggested that Hyperoliidae was derived from an ancestor in Astylosterninae but retained Astylosterninae (as well as Arthroleptinae) in Ranidae. Drewes, 1984, Occas. Pap. California Acad. Sci., 139: 1-70, found hyperoliids to be monophyletic but did not support a phylogenetic relationship with the astylosternines or arthroleptines. Until the revision by Liem, Hyperoliidae was included by most authors as a subfamily in Rhacophoridae. See Laurent, 1972, Copeia, 1972: 198-201, for a summary of the taxonomic and nomenclatural history of this group and related ones, to that time. Dubois, 1981, Monit. Zool. Ital., N.S., Suppl., 15: 225-284, provided a subfamilial classification of hyperoliids. Drewes, 1984, Occas. Pap. California Acad. Sci., 139: 1-70, did not agree with that subfamilial classification on phylogenetic grounds; he considered Afrixalus to be closely related to Hyperolius, Acanthixalus to be close to the Hyperoliinae, and Nesionixalus (formerly in Leptopelinae; see comment under Hyperolius) to be a synonym of Hyperolius (Hyperoliinae). Drewes also supplied generic synonymies and diagnoses. Lambiris, 1988, Lammergeyer, 39: 129, included Afrixalus in Hyperoliinae on the basis of vocal apparatus, webbing, and tadpole morphology. Channing, 1989, S. Afr. J. Zool., 24: 116, placed Afrixalus and Kassinula in Hyperoliinae (rather than the Kassininae of earlier authors), and erected a new subfamily, Tachycneminae, for Tachycnemis. The classification of Channing, 1989, S. Afr. J. Zool., 24: 116-131, is followed here, along with more recent taxonomic innovations. Accounts and keys to most of the genera are supplied by Laurent, 1986, in Grassé and Delsol (eds.), Traite de Zool., 14, and by Schiøtz, 1999, Treefrogs Afr.; Schiøtz, 1967, Spolia Zool. Mus. Haun., 25: 1-346 (for West Africa), and Schiøtz, 1975, Treefrogs E. Afr.: 1-232. Dubois, 1999, Alytes, 17: 90-91, provided tables of generic and family-group name priorities that will be very helpful to those attempting nomenclatural revisions. Emerson, Richards, Drewes, and Kjer, 2000, Herpetologica, 56: 209-230, suggested that Hyperoliidae was diphyletic, with Leptopelis being distantly related to the remaining taxa, and with arthroleptids within this larger group. Vences, Kosuch, Glaw, Böhme, and Veith, 2003, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 41: 205-213, noted that Leptopelinae is imbedded in Astylosternidae, and placed Kassininae and Tachycneminae in Hyperoliinae. Vences, Vieites, Glaw, Brinkmann, Kosuch, Veith, and Meyer, 2003, Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. B, Biol. Sci., 270: 2349, provided additional morphological evidence for polyphyly of a taxon composed of Leptopelinae and Hyperoliinae. Channing, 2001, Amph. Cent. S. Afr.: 127-208, provided keys and accounts for the species of southern Africa. Vences, Kosuch, Glaw, Böhme, and Veith, 2003, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res., 41: 205-215, redefined the subfamily to include all members of the former Hyperoliinae, Kassininae, and Tachycneminae due to the paraphyly of the first two. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297, reviewed taxonomic history, provided a phylogenetic hypothesis and considered Hyperoliidae as the sister taxon of Arthroleptidae, and together the sister taxon of Brevicipitidae and Hemisotidae. Rödel, Kosuch, Grafe, Boistel, Assemian, Kouamé, Tohé, Gourène, Perret, Henle, Tafforeau, Pollet, and Veith, 2009, Zootaxa, 2044: 23-45, reported on uncertainty in hyperoliid relationships based on molecular data. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543-583, in their study of Genbank sequences, confirmed the placement of Hyperoliidae as the sister taxon of Arthroleptidae and they provided a large tree of estimate phylogenetic relationships within the family: Cryptothylax + (("Kassina" + Semnodactylus + Phlyctimantis) +(Acanthixalus + (Opisthothylax + (Hyperolius + (Morella + (Afrixalus + (Tachycnemis + Heterixalus))))))). Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39-55, briefly reviewed the taxonomic history of this taxon. Conradie, Branch, Measey, and Tolley, 2012, Zootaxa, 3269: 1-17, reported on a molecular tree for about 30 species of HyperoliusVitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Channing, Rödel, and Channing, 2012, Tadpoles of Africa: 182–250, reported on comparative tadpole morphology. Portik and Blackburn, 2016, Evolution, 70: 2017–2032, discussed the evolution of reproductive diversity in the family based on molecular trees and on this basis made several taxonomic observations and recommendation, noted in the appropriate accounts. Yuan, Zhang, Raxworthy, Weisrock, Hime, Jin, Lemmon, Lemmon, Holland, Kortyna, Zhou, Peng, Che, and Prendini, 2018, Natl. Sci. Rev., Beijing, 6: 10–14, reported on phylogenetics and biogeography as an element of Natatanura. Portik, Bell, Blackburn, Bauer, Barratt, Branch, Burger, Channing, Colston, Conradie, Dehling, Drewes, Ernst, Greenbaum, Gvoždík, Harvey, Hillers, Hirschfeld, Jongsma, Kielgast, Kouete, Lawson, Leaché, Loader, Lötters, van der Meijden, Menegon, Müller, Nagy, Ofori-Boateng, Ohler, Papenfuss, Rößler, Sinsch, Rödel, Veith, Vindum, Zassi-Boulou, and McGuire, 2019, Syst. Biol., 68: 859–875, reported on phylogenetic diversification and its cause in the family as an element of Afrobatrachia, presenting a substantial phylogenetic analysis of the overall group.   

Contained taxa (228 sp.):

External links:

Please note: these links will take you to external websites not affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History. We are not responsible for their content.