Cave salamander discoveries in Montenegro and Bosnia


This video from Slovenia is called A True Miracle in Postojna CaveProteus anguinus laying eggs in public.

From BirdLife:

Scientific breakthrough reveals evidence of ‘human fish’ locked away in cave system

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 09/02/2015 – 10:35

How do you find physical evidence of a rare species when most of its habitat (the subterranean waters of limestone cave systems in the Balkans) is inaccessible to humans? The ‘human fish’ is the largest cave animal in the world. Despite this, Proteus anguinus – a blind, entirely-aquatic salamander commonly known as the olm, and endemic to the Dinaric Alps – is incredibly difficult to find.

The answer was recently provided by the Society for Cave Biology (SCB; Društvo za jamsko biologijo) in a project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) when they found the first physical evidence of the species in Montenegro using new techniques to sample its DNA.

In this region, activities such as water extraction, river damming and agriculture have increased the stress on Proteus and other aquatic cave animals. Limestone habitats like cave systems can be intricate and complex, having taken millions of years to form by natural processes. One wrong move can wipe out entire species, so urgent measures need to be taken in order to save them.

Nick-named the ‘human fish’ by locals because of its skin colour, Proteus are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in some localities the species is already extinct. However the extent of the decline cannot be estimated without an extensive survey of its distribution – in habitat where access is easy for the human fish, but not so easy for human beings. The purpose of the CEPF project was to solve this problem: to test a scientific method that safely, effectively and accurately determines Proteus presence.

Environmental DNA

SCB, experts in speleological (cave and karst) research, designed a solution based on so-called ‘eDNA’. During the process of skin regeneration, Proteus shed fragments of epidermal cells which are carried away by water. DNA dissolved in water is called environmental DNA (eDNA), and SCB successfully tested and perfected the sensitive and inexpensive technique of identifying Proteus eDNA from samples of water.

After many hours in the field and thousands of water samples, the team have discovered new localities of Proteus in Montenegro and in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This ground-breaking research will give SCB and partners the evidence to appeal and counsel the nature conservation authorities in Montenegro to start all necessary legal actions to protect Proteus in their territories, and to guide the management planning of authorities in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

New frog species discovery in Peru


This video says about itself:

An Array of Frogs Calling in the Peruvian Amazon

4 February 2012

Nine species of frog are seen here. From left to right, and top to bottom: Hypsiboas geographicus, Dendropsophus sarayacuensis, Hypsiboas lanciformis, Hypsiboas punctatus, Scinax chiquitanus, Phyllomedusa palliata, Leptodactylus rhodonotus, Leptodactylus sp., Leptodactylus sp.

All frogs were recorded in the Madre de Dios region of Peru.

From Wildlife Extra:

New yellow frog discovered in Peru

A new water frog species has been discovered on Pacific slopes of the Andes in central Peru, an area scientists had thought was poor in biodiversity.

The name of the new species Telmatobius ventriflavum comes from the Latin for yellow belly (venter and flavus) and refers to the golden yellow and orange coloration on the body.

Water frogs are a subfamily of frogs endemic to the Andes of South America. The populations of several species of Telmatobius have declined dramatically over the past 30 years, and the genus is now thought to be extinct in Ecuador. These declines have been associated with the spread of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis.

“The discovery of a new species in such arid and easily accessible environments shows that much remains to be done to document amphibian diversity in the Andes,” said the lead author Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The study detected the presence of the chytrid fungus, but the impact of chytridiomycosis on the new species is unknown. The authors recommend disease surveillance to prevent outbreaks that might endanger the survival of this endemic species.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

New frog species discovered in Bangladesh


An adult male Euphlyctis kalasgramensis, a newly discovered species of frog that lives in Bangladesh. Credit: M. S. A. Howlader

From Live Science:

Newfound Frog Has Strange Breeding Habits

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer

February 04, 2015 02:02pm ET

A new species of frog has hopped onto the radar of researchers in Bangladesh. The frogs were discovered after the researchers noticed their unusual breeding habits, according to a new study.

Most frogs have a specific mating season, but researchers found that one frog bred all year long, even in the winter, said study lead researcher M. Sajid Ali Howlader, a doctoral student of biosciences at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Howlader learned that the frog was named Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis, and it was discovered by the German naturalist J. G. Schneider in 1799. But a detailed study of the frog’s genetics, shape and size showed that it was actually an entirely different species from E. cyanophlyctis. [Photos: Cute and Colorful Frogs]

The newfound frog’s mitochondrial genes are between 5.5 percent and about 18 percent different from other frog species in the same genus, the researchers found. And its grayish-brown and green back, covered with dark, rounded spots, and white underside also look different from E. cyanophlycti[s], Howlader said.

Female frogs prefer a group of males calling to them rather than a lone male calling by himself, they found. Once the female is ready to mate, she will hop over to the male and make physical contact with him.rAfter observing that the frogs mate all year long, Howlader and his colleagues became experts at describing the amphibian’s mating practices. He named the new 1.5-inch-long (3.8 centimeters) frog Euphlyctis kalasgramensis, after the Bangladesh village of Kalasgram, where he first found the frogs.

Further investigations of E. kalasgramensis showed that it eats different types of worms, small crabs, snails, spiders and insects, especially those that harm local crops, Howlader said. Once chosen, the male doesn’t waste any time. He immediately jumps on the female’s back, clinging to her below the armpits with his forearms, Howlader said. The male uses his hind legs to kick away competing males, and moves with the female to a small, shallow pool of water to spawn.

The researchers found that the frog lives in pools of water that collect in forests and crop fields, which puts it at risk from farming pesticides that pollute water, Howlader said. The frog is also threatened by people who use it as live bait for fishing, and by indigenous people who eat it, he told Live Science.

The study may raise awareness that the frog needs protection, the researchers said.

Frog[s] originated before 265 million years ago,” Howlader said. “The first members of our human family (hominins) evolved about only 6 or 7 million years ago. But the existence of this old member of our world has become threatened by our activities and ignorance.”

The findings were published online today (Feb. 4) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Endangered Andean toad rediscovery in Ecuador


In this video, one can hear and see a male of the recently rediscovered toad species Andinophryne olallai call.

From mongabay.com:

Scientists rediscover endangered Andean toad in Ecuador

By Joanna Parkman

January 30, 2015

In 1970 researchers uncovered the Tandayapa Andean toad (Andinophryne olallai), previously unknown to science, in the Pichincha Province of Ecuador. Given that only a single individual was discovered, even after further exploration in the following years, the toad was soon presumed to be extinct. Forty-two years later, however, a research team rediscovered the species in Manduriacu, Ecuador. Their recently published study in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation describes new knowledge of the cryptic Tandayapa Andean toad, including population status, geographic extent, and natural history.

The Rediscovery

While rediscovering an “extinct” species may appear to be an unusual phenomenon, Lynch says that “…approximately 12 percent of [frog and toad] species previously thought to have gone extinct have in recent years been rediscovered.” This suggests that similar occurrences will increase with additional research efforts, especially in the neotropics. Lynch credits a global initiative created in partnership with the Amphibian Survival Alliance to find these so-called Lost Frogs.

“In response to the global amphibian crisis researchers and conservationists in all corners of the world have increased their efforts to understand and protect amphibian populations before they disappear forever,” he told mongabay.com.

Lynch and fellow scientists conducted stream surveys for reptiles and amphibians throughout the premontane tropical forest—directly below the mountainous zone—and cloud forests of Northwest Ecuador. The survey sites, located along the Western slope of the Andes Mountain range near the Cotacahi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, ranged from 1,100 to 1,400 meters (3,609 to 4,593 feet) in elevation.

Most notably, the research team identified a new locality for the long missing Tandayapa Andean toad: Imbabura Province, roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the location where the species was first discovered in 1970. Across the four stream systems sampled, the group observed 18 individuals, including two froglets, five juveniles, and two pregnant adult females.

Other reptiles

not only reptiles. Also amphibians.

observed during surveys included two nationally endangered species—the Darwin Wallace poison-frog (Epipedobates darwinwallacei) and the spiny Lirecko (Lepidoblepharis conolepis)—and one internationally endangered species—the Ricuarte robber frog (Pristimantis scolodiscus)—as well as multiple species that have yet to undergo an assessment.

The rediscovery of the Tandayapa Andean toad is particularly important to the scientific community, as it demonstrates the value of field research, the continued existence of new and unexpected discoveries, and the capacity of species resilience. Furthermore, rediscoveries illustrate the importance of in-situ conservation, or on-site conservation of naturally occurring populations.

Dutch amphibians and reptiles in winter


This video from France shows a grass snake and an adder together.

Because winter weather has been relatively mild so far in January, some reptiles and amphibians in the Netherlands are already active, Dutch RAVON herpetologists report.

From 1 till 19 January 2015 were seen: two adders; four slow worms; eight Alpine newts; fifteen great crested newts; twenty smooth newts; eighteen common toads; 35 common frogs; one moor frog; six edible frogs; one red-eared slider turtle; and one loggerhead sea turtle.

Biodiversity, including small predators such as dragonflies and other aquatic bugs that attack and consume parasites, may improve the health of amphibians, according to a team of researchers. Amphibians have experienced marked declines in the wild around the world in recent decades, the team added: here.

New legless amphibian discovery in Cambodia


This video says about itself:

Amazing Amphibians Vol.1, No.1: Caecilian – Ichthyophis kohtaoensis

This is a common caecilian found in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was almost 38cm big!!! I took this video in Khao Yai National Park in Dec. 2, 2010.

The species in the video is a relative of the species recently discovered in Cambodia.

From Fauna & Flora International:

New legless amphibian discovered in Cambodia

by Louisa McKerrow

14 January 2015

New discovery marks the second caecilian species ever to be found in the country

Scientists have discovered a new species of legless amphibian in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains

The new species, Ichthyophis cardamomensis, is a caecilian, an order of limbless amphibians often mistaken for snakes, with larger species known to grow to 1.5 metres in length. This discovery, at only 30 cm, is linked to the continuing ground-breaking work at the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) in Phnom Penh, a joint initiative of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP).

Leading Cambodian FFI herpetologist Neang Thy has been researching amphibians and reptiles since 2003 and is very excited that the I. cardamomensis species has been officially confirmed. This discovery is one of three new species of unstriped Ichthyophis caecelians (the other two were found in Vietnam) introduced in the ‘New Ichthyophis species from Indochina’ paper published recently in the Organisms Diversity & Evolution scientific journal (published by the Society for Biological Systematics).

Between 2009 and 2011, Cambodian species samples were collected by Neang Thy and Dr Lee Grismer from the US La Sierra University with final confirmation from lead paper author, Dr Peter Geissler from the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, Germany.

Why caecilians are important to conservation

The I.cardamomensis species is only the second caecilian species ever discovered in Cambodia. The other is the striped Koa Tao Island caecilian, I. kohtaoensis, which is also found in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“These discoveries are important to demonstrate that much of Cambodia’s biodiversity remains unknown and unstudied by science, and many more areas need to be searched,” Thy said.

The forested Cardamom Mountains Range represents some of the largest remaining areas of habitat for more than 80 threatened species, including Asian elephant and gaur.

Thy said in recent years the Cardamom region had revealed its extensive reptile and amphibian diversity, including frogs, turtles, lizards and crocodiles.

“We are still learning about this area and the animals in it, since it was a region formerly held by the Khmer Rouge and the mountains were closed to researchers until the 1990s,” he said.

“The Cardamom region is under threat from logging, land concessions, and other habitat destruction, and the danger of any new species, including the new caecilian, is that they may be discovered one year and go extinct the next.”

Caecilians have a valuable role in the ecosystems of tropical and subtropical regions, including providing a food source for the red tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophis ruffus). Caecilians eat invertebrates, such as earthworms, ants and termites.

Speaking the science of caecilian

Caecilians are a difficult group to describe as they look so similar, and there are few caecilian experts, so comprehensive morphological and molecular (DNA) analyses is needed to recognise a new species.

Zoologist Dr Peter Geissler said caecilians of the genus Ichthyophis were some of the most poorly known amphibian taxa within Southeast Asia.

“Three distinct unstriped Ichthyophiid species – I. cardamomensis from western Cambodia, I.catlocensis from southern Vietnam, and I.chaloensis from central Vietnam are now described as new species, almost doubling the number of Ichthyophis species known from the Indochinese region, ” he said.

Caecilians are best described as snake or worm-like amphibians that lack limbs. They have the typical amphibian skin that clearly differs from snakes, and they have skull and bones which differs from worms.

To read the ‘New Ichthyophis species from Indochina’ paper in the Organisms Diversity & Evolution magazine click here.