Sympatry and hybridization between the clawed frogs Xenopus laevis laevis and Xenopus muelleri (Pipidae)


*Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Biologie, Invalidenstrasse 43, D-10115 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:


Though most Xenopus species are polyploid and can be hybridized in the laboratory, natural hybridization seems to be restricted to hybrids of X. laevis laevis×X. gilli. A parapatric distribution pattern between X. l. laevis and X. muelleri seems to prevent interbreeding. We found X. l. laevis and X. muelleri living sympatrically in water bodies in the Republic of South Africa west of Kruger Park and report a natural hybrid of X. l. laevis×X. muelleri. Natural occurrence of such a hybrid has not been reported previously. The hybrid character was confirmed by analysis of its advertisement calls, which were intermediate between those of the parental species, by analysis of its serum albumin pattern, and by determination of the nuclear DNA content of its erythrocytes. The results indicate that this specimen is an F1 hybrid between X. l. laevis and X. muelleri. Backcrossing with both parental species indicated that the hybrid is sterile. It is discussed why sympatry between X. l. laevis and X. muelleri though possible might be rare.