From Wildlife Extra:
New frog species discovered in India’s wastelands
A team of researchers from India and the National University of Singapore (NUS) has discovered a new species of narrow-mouthed frog in the laterite rock formations of India’s coastal plains. The frog, which is the size of a thumbnail, was named Microhyla laterite after its natural habitat.
The discovery by the research team, led by Mr Seshadri K S, a PhD student from the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science, was published in the prestigious journal PLOS One on 9 March 2016.
Laterite rock formations are prominent landscape features in the coastal plains of southwest India. They are broadly considered as rocky areas as they are usually devoid of trees and other vegetation, and are therefore classified as wastelands. These areas are often used for dumping activities and are heavily mined for construction materials in the form of bricks.
While conducting field surveys as a part of his citizen science initiative “My laterite, My habitat”, independent researcher Mr Ramit Singal, who is one of the authors of the journal paper, spotted the frog in laterite habitats in and around the coastal town of Manipal, Udupi District, Karnataka State, India. He brought it to the attention of Mr Seshadri and his collaborators, who worked together to describe the frog.
The frog, which measures around 1.6 centimetres, is pale brown with prominent black markings on its dorsum, hands, feet and flanks. It has a call that can be easily mistaken for that of a cricket.
The newly discovered species was named Microhyla laterite (M. laterite) after the habitat it resides in. The research team suggested Laterite narrow-mouthed frog to be its common name, as frogs in the Microhyla genus have a smaller mouth compared to other frogs.
Mr Seshadri, who is the lead author of the journal paper, said, “By naming the frog after its habitat, we hope to draw attention to the endangered rock formations that are of ecological importance. M. laterite can potentially be used as a mascot to change peoples’ perception about laterite areas.”
To ensure the validity of the frog as a new species, Mr Seshadri and his team members studied the genes, body structure, colouration and vocalisations of four individual frogs. They also compared the results with data of closely related species.
“One could easily confuse this frog with other species like Microhyla ornata which is thought to occur all over India. However, it was evident from analysing the genes that M. laterite is a distinct species, and is closely related to M. sholigari, which is found only in the Western Ghats,” said Mrs Priti Hebbar, one of the authors of the paper who is studying the effects of forest fragmentation on frogs in India for her PhD. “All three species are small and similar in appearance and only a critical examination would reveal the differences,” she added.
Further studies and conservation efforts
Based on preliminary assessments, the research team suggested M. laterite to be classified as Endangered under the guidelines of the Red List by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as the geographic range of the frog is narrow, within an area of 150 square kilometres in southwest India.
“In spite of its geological heritage, laterite areas in India receive very little protection from any legislation. Given the threats these fragile habitats are facing, there is a strong imperative to conserve them,” said Mr Ramit.
Since M. laterite appears to be restricted to laterite rock formations along the west coast, the researchers intend to conduct further research to determine the evolutionary ecology of the frog, and to test for an association with laterite formations.
“How amphibians persist outside protected areas is not known. This critically endangered frog can be used as a basis for declaring its native laterite habitats as “Conservation Reserves” or “Biological Heritage Areas” under existing legislations in India, allowing us to further our knowledge and understanding of amphibians,” said Mr Seshadri.
See also here.
This video says about itself:
Frog Fights For Female Attention – Africa – BBC
16 March 2016
One frog is on the biggest climb of his life, a male in search of a mate but he has to overcome some obstacles first.
From the BBC today:
Frog species with yellow eyebrows found in Colombia
Researchers say they have discovered a new frog species with distinctive yellow eyebrows in Colombia.
The frog has a dark camouflage pattern which allows it to blend in with the rocky soil on which it dwells.
Researchers with the Humboldt Institute found the frog, which they named Pristimantis macrummendozai, in the Iguaquen Merchan moorlands, in central Boyaca province.
Colombia is one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries.
Researchers said that the species was well adapted to its moorland surroundings.
They said that female Pristimantis took advantage of the moist soil to lay their eggs in the ground.
According to their studies, the Pristimantis’ preferred breeding environment was at high altitude, above 3,500m (11,500ft).
Environmentalists in Colombia have been fighting for the country’s moorlands to be protected.
Last month, they celebrated when Colombia’s constitutional court banned mining in the moorlands, arguing that it could cause irreversible damage to their fragile ecosystem.
This music video from the Netherlands is called Harry Sacksioni – De Paddentrek (Toad Migration).
Translated from Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands today:
Behind VHL college in Leeuwarden [in Friesland province] is a small river, the Potmarge. In early spring small amphibians there in the morning and the evening cross in order to reproduce. There, they cross the bike path on which they are often crushed by cyclists and scooter riders. Alumni Carlijn Lanrijssens and her classmate Tariq Stark sometimes found thirty killed smooth newts on the bike path. “We thought that really can not go on next to a green college. Moreover, it is unique that there is such a large population of newts so close to downtown,” said Carlijn.
Tariq and Carlijn took the initiative to rescue the animals. With the help of the municipality of Leeuwarden, two 130-meter fences were placed along the Potmarge. On both sides of them thirty buckets were buried. A group of students now twice a day bends over the buckets to free the salamanders and to transfer them safely. Sometimes they also find unfortunate frogs and toads. In each bucket is a stick or a twig. “In that way, mice can climb out.” Students register numbers and sex of the salamanders, to understand the size of the population.
Across the country with the help of volunteers last year more than 270,000 amphibians were transferred.
This video, from Massachusetts in the USA, says about itself:
Join Rene Wendell, resident naturalist at The Trustees of Reservations‘ Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield, MA, as he takes a group of volunteers into a misty March (2011) night to help migrating amphibians cross a busy road. We encounter: spotted salamanders, spring peepers, wood frogs, four toe salamanders, red backed salamanders, and an American toad.
Translated from ANP news agency in the Netherlands:
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 11:11
Last year, volunteers have helped about 270,000 toads, frogs and salamanders to cross roads in the Netherlands. If the average lengths of the animals are added together, that would create a procession of some 19 kilometers of amphibians; according to figures from Ravon (Reptile Amphibian and Fish Research in the Netherlands).
The common toad was most frequently helped crossing: 116,670 times. In second place is the common frog with 14,575 transfers. The third place is for the smooth newt; which was helped 7,514 times. In Amerongen town volunteers were the most fanatical in transferring. More than 11,400 amphibians were helped to cross roads there.
Amphibian migration 2016
The mild winter weather ensures that the first amphibians of 2016 were transferred already in January. Last weekend a combination of relatively high temperatures and heavy rainfall resulted in a small surge of 3,000 transferred animals. The massive migration of amphibians is yet to come and will take some time. For the next few weeks in fact lower night temperatures are predicted. It is expected that the greatest numbers of amphibians will migrate in March.
See also here.
From AFP news agency:
Brazil scientists discover three new toad species
December 2, 2015
Brazilian scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of three previously unknown species of poisonous toads in the fast-shrinking Atlantic forest of southern Brazil, an area dubbed an “incubator” of new life forms.
The tiny creatures, measuring from one to 2.5 centimeters (up to one inch), were found in Santa Catarina state, a zone of mountains and forested valleys that is considered an important center of biodiversity.
“The great importance of this discovery is that this forest serves as an incubator for the origin of species,” said Marcos Bornschein, a researcher with the Federal University of Parana, who helped identify the creatures.
“It’s a laboratory of huge importance for the mapping and conserving and understanding of biological processes,” he said.
The Atlantic forest once covered most of Brazil’s coastline, but only eight percent has been preserved. Most of the country’s 204 million people live along the coast.
The toads are dark brown with red markings and are speckled with warts. They eat ants and mites and during digestion create a chemical in the skin that can poison predators, principally snakes.
“They are not dangerous to humans,” Bornschein said. “During the fieldwork, some researchers felt a numbing in their finger ends after touching them, but nothing more.”
The discovery of the toads, all classified as part of the Melanophryniscus genus, was described Wednesday in the scientific journal Plos One.
The article said that the discovery of the toads in a fairly restricted geographical area—they were found between the cities of Garuva and Blumenau, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) apart—suggested that the species “might be severely underestimated.”
But it added that the “status of these species is of particular concern, given that one of them is at risk of extinction.”