Purple frog new species discovery in India


External morphology of tadpoles of the Bhupathy’s purple frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi). Image credit: S. Jegath Janani et al.

By Natali Anderson:

Bizarre New Species of Frog Discovered in India: Nasikabatrachus bhupathi

Aug 28, 2017

Herpetologists are claiming they have discovered a new species of purple frog living in the Western Ghats, India.

In a paper published in the Alytes, the International Journal of Batrachology, the researchers describe the new frog species that they call Nasikabatrachus bhupathi.

The proposed English name is the Bhupathy’s purple frog.

The new species was described by Dr. S. Jegath Janani from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) in Hyderabad, India, and his colleagues from the American Museum of Natural History the CSIR-CCMB, and the Nature Environment and Wildlife Society.

“The name of this species, bhupathi, commemorates Dr. S. Bhupathy, a noted scientist and a field herpetologist,” the authors explain.

They say Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is just the second member of the genus Nasikabatrachus.

The frog is morphologically, acoustically and genetically distinct from the only previously known species, Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis (common names: purple frog, Indian purple frog, pignose frog).

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi measures between 1.8 and 2 inches (4.5-5 cm) in length.

“The abdominal skin of the species is smooth, grayish-white with faint marbling in coloration. The skin on dorsum is smooth, thick, and dark brown from vent to shoulder. The head is lighter brown; no dorso-lateral or transverse skin folds,” Dr. Janani and co-authors say.

“The body is globular; the head is not externally distinct from body, the snout is acutely pointed with a lighter colored fleshy protuberance and a hard knob-like projection at the tip.”

“The mouth is small, subterminal, ventral, and posterior to snout tip; the tongue is small with entire rounded tip.”

According to the team, Nasikabatrachus bhupathi lives on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.

“The currently known distribution of Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is restricted to three highly seasonal second order streams,” they say.

“The type locality is on the leeward side of the Western Ghats, which receives less rainfall than the western slopes of these mountains during southwest monsoon.”

Both Nasikabatrachus bhupathi and N. sahyadrensis are highly adapted for fossoriality (burrowing).

Nasikabatrachus frogs live and feed underground, therefore hard, dry soil and rock (from mountain uplift) is expected to present an insurmountable barrier to burrowing and feeding, preventing them from dispersing far,” the researchers say.

Advertisements

Three small frog species discovered in Peru


This video says about itself:

7 March 2017

In the Pui Pui Protected Forest, Peruvian Andes, researchers discovered a new species of terrestrial-breeding frog. The species was named Pristimantis attenboroughi, Attenborough’s Rubber Frog, in honour of Sir David Attenborough.

And now, more relatives of this frog have been discovered in that area.

From the University of Michigan in the USA:

Three species of tiny frogs discovered in Peruvian Andes

July 27, 2017

A University of Michigan ecologist and his colleagues have discovered three more frog species in the Peruvian Andes, raising to five the total number of new frog species the group has found in a remote protected forest since 2012.

The three newly found species live in the mountain forests and Andean grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest in central Peru. They are described in a study to be published online July 27 in the journal Zootaxa. All three species measure an inch or less in length, from snout to vent.

“Our team has now described five new species of frogs from this region, with several more to come in the near future,” said Rudolf von May, a postdoctoral researcher in the Rabosky Lab at the U-M Museum of Zoology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Other team members are in Illinois, the Czech Republic and Peru.

“These discoveries demonstrate the need for further scientific exploration of such Andean habitats,” he said. “While the Pui Pui Protected Forest was established in 1985, virtually no biological surveys were conducted in the park for nearly three decades, and the potential for additional discoveries is enormous.”

The three new frog species belong to the genus Pristimantis, the most diverse genus of frogs in the tropical Andes. With nearly 500 species, they are part of the family Craugastoridae, commonly known as land-breeding or terrestrial-breeding frogs.

While most frogs lay eggs in water, terrestrial-breeding frogs use a specialized reproductive mode called direct development: A clutch of embryos hatches directly into froglets; there are no free-living tadpoles. This allows the group to exploit a wide variety of habitats, as long as those locations contain sufficient moisture.

Terrestrial-breeding frogs appear to have undergone an evolutionary radiation at high elevations in Peru, as many species resemble one another and have similar life histories. A so-called adaptive radiation occurs when a single ancestral group produces many descendant species adapted to different habitats and ways of life.

The Zootaxa paper names and describes the three newly discovered frog species and presents supporting morphological and phylogenetic evidence. The first author of the paper is Edgar Lehr of Illinois Wesleyan University.

The frog species bear the name of the Pui Pui park, the mountain-forest habitat in the park, and a naturalist-explorer. They are:

The Pui Pui Rubber Frog, Pristimantis puipui, known from a single site near Laguna Sinchón, which marks the approximate center of the Pui Pui Protected Forest, at an elevation of 12,762 feet above sea level. The species name is derived from the Quechua words “pui pui” meaning “eyes of water,” a reference to the many lakes of the Pui Pui Protected Forest.

The Hill Dweller Rubber Frog, Pristimantis bounides, known from two sites at elevations of 10,991 feet and 11,362 feet. The species name “bounides” is derived from the Greek noun “bounos,” which means “dweller of the hills” and refers to the habitat of the mountain forests where this frog was found.

The Humboldt’s Rubber Frog, Pristimantis humboldti, known from a single site at 10,886 feet. The species name is the patronym of the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, who traveled the New World between 1799 and 1804 and whose ideas changed our understanding of the world.

Earlier this year, the researchers described two other new species of Peruvian frogs, Pristimantis ashaninka and Pristimantis attenboroughi. The first was named after the Ashaninka, a group of indigenous people from the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, some of whom live near Pui Pui. The second species was named after BBC naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough.

Future papers by the group will describe five more newly discovered species from Pui Pui: three frogs and two lizards.

The Pui Pui Protected Forest covers 150,000 acres and includes dozens of lakes and streams that feed several rivers in the upper Amazon River watershed. About 70 percent of the protected forest is covered by Andean grasslands, and about 30 percent is cloud forest.

“Our findings suggest that the Pui Pui Protected Forest houses unique biological communities containing species found nowhere else,” Lehr said. “One reason for this is that the area has a steep topographic gradient including a broad array of habitats and local microclimates that contribute to high amphibian species diversity.”

Von May and Lehr first discussed the possibility of exploring the Pui Pui in 2003. In early 2012, Lehr received funding from the National Geographic Society to survey the area, and they carried out the first expeditions that year.

Two other herpetologists joined subsequent trips: Jiri Moravec of the National History Museum in Prague, Czech Republic and Juan Carlos Cusi of the Museum of Natural History of Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru.

Altogether, the team spent nearly three months in the field between 2012 and 2014, in a region where mountains taller than 13,000 feet are common.

“Our team worked with local guides and park rangers,” von May said. “The equipment, food and camping supplies used in the expeditions were carried by horses and mules.”

Most of the frogs were discovered by searching through moss and grass and under rocks, small bushes and other vegetation. In some cases, the researchers found frogs after hearing the males calling during light afternoon or evening rains.

Given that the newly discovered frog species live in the Pui Pui Protected Forest, much of their habitat is formally protected. However, amphibians worldwide face multiple threats — including habitat loss, the deadly chytrid skin fungus and climate change — and Andean amphibians are no exception.

In the Peruvian Andes, habitat loss is currently the main threat. Of special concern are forest clearcuttings and humanmade fires used to expand agricultural crops and grazing areas for livestock.

Worldwide, the number of known amphibian species continues to rise due to new discoveries and now stands at nearly 7,700.

Three new toad species discovered in Nevada, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

24 July 2017

Scientists have discovered three new species of toads living in Nevada’s Great Basin in the US, that have been isolated from other populations for 650,000 years and may already be at risk of extinction. Discoveries of new amphibians are extremely rare in the US with only three new frog species discovered since 1985 – and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.

“We’ve found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations,” said Dick Tracy, professor at University of Nevada in the US. “These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years,” said Tracy. The three new species, the Dixie Valley toad, Railroad Valley toad and Hot Creek toad are not connected geographically.

They were found in Tracy’s 10-year long survey of the desert-dominated Great Basin. The toads are small in size, yet each have a suite of unique physical features that differ from each other, as well as other toads in the region. Each of the species have slightly different colours, and they are about two inches long when full grown.

“The Dixie Valley toad is a pretty toad, with flecks of gold on an olive background,” said Tracy. The Dixie Valley toad is only found in an isolated spring-fed marsh which make up less than four square miles surrounded by an arid region where aquatic resources are both rare and widely scattered. The habitat occupied by this newly described species is also adjacent to a proposed site for a geothermal power plant that could dry up the marsh and threaten the toad’s survival.

“If this power plant goes in and the habitat is dried up, this recently discovered species could go extinct,” Tracy said. “It’s a good candidate for an Endangered Species Act listing,” he said. The Dixie Valley species has the smallest body size among the region’s complex of related species in the western US, and can be further diagnosed from other toads in the complex by the large glands on its hind legs in addition to its distinctive colouration.

The Railroad Valley toad is in the Tonopah Basin in the central Nevada desert and the Hot Creek Toad is about 56 kilometres away but in Hot Creek Mountain Range, in a drainage isolated from the Railroad Valley toad. All three new species are natives of the Great Basin in Nevada, which was once covered by large marshes and giant inland lakes during the Pleistocene Epoch and is now among the most arid regions in the US with only one per cent of the landscape containing water. The findings were published in the journal Zootaxa.

From the University of Nevada, Reno in the USA:

Rare discovery of three new toad species in Nevada’s Great Basin

July 21, 2017

Summary: Three new species of toads have been discovered living in Nevada’s Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square mile ancient lake bottom, report investigators.

Three new species of toads have been discovered living in Nevada’s Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square mile ancient lake bottom. Discoveries of new amphibians are extremely rare in the United States with only three new frog species discovered since 1985 — and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.

“We’ve found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations,” Dick Tracy, a biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lead scientist on the project, said. “These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years.”

The three new species, the Dixie Valley toad, Railroad Valley toad and Hot Creek toad are not connected geographically. They were found in Tracy’s 10-year long survey of the desert-dominated Great Basin. His team used 30 “shape” metrics and DNA studies to analyze these toads’ characteristics to determine if each were distinguishable from the closely related Western toad, found throughout the Western United States.

The evidence supports the recognition of three distinct new species. The toads are small in size, yet each have a suite of unique physical features that differ from each other, as well as other toads in the region. Each of the species have slightly different colors, and they are about two inches long when full grown.

“The Dixie Valley toad is a pretty toad, with flecks of gold on an olive background,” Tracy, a long-time professor in the biology department of the College of Science, said. “It’s not like the big, common green toads you might find in other marshes around the west or even in Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.”

The Dixie Valley toad is in Churchill County about 100 miles east of Reno. The toad is only found in this isolated spring-fed marsh which make up less than four square miles, surrounded by an arid region where aquatic resources are both rare and widely scattered. Dixie Valley is the hottest and most geothermally active system in the Basin and Range Province. The habitat occupied by this newly described species is also adjacent to a proposed site for a geothermal power plant that could dry up the marsh and threaten the toad’s survival.

The power plant development is on hold while the Bureau of Land Management reviews the geothermal project and the possible impacts on the toad species. The Center for Biological Diversity, a national environmental group based in Tucson, Arizona, marshaled more than 1000 letters to the BLM asking them to reconsider permitting the power plant being built at the site of the newly discovered species.

Potential for Endangered Species Act listing

“If this power plant goes in and the habitat is dried up, this recently discovered species could go extinct,” Tracy said. “It’s a good candidate for an Endangered Species Act listing. The ESA was passed under Richard Nixon in 1973, and the second species listed under the new Act was the Houston Toad. This is a tough conflict between commerce and biological resources, and we need to seek compromises so if the project proceeds, it won’t hurt the toads.”

Tracy’s team includes his master’s student Michelle Gordon from the University’s Biology Graduate Program, who is the lead author of the scientific paper describing the new species, and his former doctoral student Eric Simandle from the University’s Ecology and Evolution and Conservation Biology Graduate Program. Simandle is now an associate professor at Paul Smiths College in New York and is a co-author on the study that discovered the toad in the thick underbrush of the spring-fed marsh.

The small isolated toad populations also have the smallest individuals compared to other western toads.

The Dixie Valley species has the smallest body size among the region’s complex of related species in the western United States, and can be further diagnosed from other toads in the complex by the large glands on its hind legs in addition to its distinctive coloration.

The overall population numbers of the Dixie Valley toad are unknown, and the current range is severely restricted, suggesting that this species’ population is likely very small and especially vulnerable to changes in environment.

“The toads are perfectly concealed in the dense vegetation of their habitat,” Gordon said. “You could easily miss seeing them during the day, making accurate counts difficult. But, during one trip at dusk, toads were everywhere, giving the impression that toads were locally abundant. And, without the water in this habitat, this toad species would completely disappear.”

Isolated by Desert

The Railroad Valley toad is in the Tonopah Basin in the central Nevada desert and the Hot Creek Toad is about 35 miles away but in Hot Creek Mountain Range, in a drainage isolated from the Railroad Valley toad. All three new species are natives of the Great Basin in Nevada, which was once covered by large marshes and giant inland lakes during the Pleistocene Epoch and is now among the most arid regions in the United States with only one percent of the landscape containing water.

“Our goal has been to understand the relationships among toad populations in the Great Basin,” Tracy said. “We’ve found that our knowledge of amphibian diversity in the western United States remains incomplete and that novel discoveries continue to occur, even in unlikely settings. This is really, really neat; an exciting thing, to find something not known to exist before.”

Tracy has been honored as a Guggenheim Fellow, as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as a Distinguished Scholar at Pepperdine University, and as a Fellow of the Association of Western Universities. He is the recipient of an American Society of Zoologists’ Service Award, a Desert Tortoise Council Conservation Award and a Service Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tracy has authored more than 200 scientific papers, and his work is known internationally.

“Dr. Tracy has long been recognized as one of the world’s leading ecologists,” Jack Hayes, chair of the Department of Biology said. “In recent years as he has turned his attention to conservation issues, he has been translating his basic knowledge into studies that make a difference for Nevada, the U.S., and the biodiversity of the world. The discovery of a new species of vertebrate in North America at this point in time is extremely rare, so the research by Dr. Tracy and his graduate students is a remarkable and exciting accomplishment.”

The discovery of the Dixie Valley toad was announced in the peer-reviewed science journal Zootaxa on July 6.

Glass frog protects eggs, video


This 3 July 2017 National Geographic video says about itself:

The Glass Frog: Ultimate Ninja Dad | Animal 24

3 July 2017

A male glass frog is the lone protector of his eggs 24/7 until they hatch. Sometimes this means protecting them from their worst enemy.

Dinosaurs extinct, frogs survived


This 2016 video is called Frogs: National Geographic Documentary HD.

From the University of California – Berkeley in the USA:

Dinosaurs’ loss was frogs’ gain: The upside of a mass extinction

88 percent of living frogs originated from an evolutionary radiation beginning at K-Pg boundary

July 3, 2017

Summary: Based on earlier studies, biologists believed that the vast majority of today’s frogs originated in a blossoming of new species 100 million years ago. New and more complete genetic data pinpoints this radiation much earlier: 66 million years ago at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, precisely when much of life on Earth was wiped out by a comet or asteroid. Frogs took advantage of flourishing angiosperms to escape to the treetops into many more ecological niches.

Most of the frogs alive today owe a big thank you to the asteroid or comet that delivered the coup de grace to the dinosaurs.

A new study by Chinese and American biologists shows that if the calamity had not wiped the planet clean of most terrestrial life 66 million years ago, 88 percent of today’s frog species wouldn’t be here. Nearly nine out of 10 species of frog today have descended from just three lineages that survived the mass extinction.

The results, to be published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are a surprise, because previous studies of frog evolution pinpointed the blossoming of the main frog lineages today to about 35 million years earlier, in the middle of the Mesozoic era [rather: closer to the middle].

The new analysis of 95 genes from frogs within 44 of 55 living families shows that these three lineages started to take off precisely at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods — the K-Pg boundary, formerly called the KT boundary — when the last mass extinction occurred, and not 100 million years ago.

According to herpetologist and co-author David Wake, a University of California, Berkeley professor of the graduate school and a curator of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, new frog species likely radiated rapidly throughout the world because so many environmental niches were available after the animals occupying them disappeared.

“We think the world was quite impoverished as a result of the KT event, and when the vegetation came back, angiosperms dominated. That’s when trees evolved to their full flowering,” Wake said. “Frogs started becoming arboreal. It was the arboreality that led to the great radiation in South America in particular.”

Trees are an ideal habitat for frogs not only because they allow them to escape from terrestrial predators, but also because their fallen leaves provide protection while the frogs are on the ground, breeding habitat and plenty of food, such as insects. Trees and other flowering plants took off in the late Cretaceous, and were ready for exploitation by frogs after they recovered from the extinction.

Another adaptation that became popular was direct development, that is, producing young without a tadpole stage, which is standard for about half of all frog species today.

“The majority of the frogs that thrive now are thriving because of direct development of eggs in terrestrial situations,” he said. “It is a combination of direct development and use of arboreal habitat that accounts for a great deal of the radiation.”

Previous genetic analyses of frog evolution focused on mitochondrial DNA and how long the molecular clock had been ticking for mitochrondrial genes. However, analysis of molecular evolution in mitochondrial DNA often produces dates for lineage divergence that are too old. In the case of frogs, such analysis pinpointed the radiation of most living frogs at about 100 million years ago, which was a puzzle, since Earth’s environment was stable at that time. A changing environment typically drives evolution.

The new analysis, based on data assembled primarily by graduate student Yan-Jie Feng at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, focused on the sequences of 95 genes located on chromosomes in the nucleus and how they changed over time. He and his colleagues gathered genetic data from 156 frog species and combined this with earlier information about two genes from 145 different frogs, for a total of 301 distinct frog species from all 55 families of frogs. The data were calibrated using 20 dates derived from fossils and Earth historical events.

The team, which includes scientists from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida and the University of Texas, Austin, concluded that perhaps 10 groups of frogs survived the extinction, but only three of them (Hyloidea, Microhylidae, and Natatanura) flourished and diversified to claim habitats and niches around the world.

Nothing other than luck distinguishes the survivors, Wake said. Remnants of the other surviving lineages are scattered in isolated spots around the world, but are just as diverse today in their habitats and breeding strategies as the 88 percent.

Two of the three surviving lineages that subsequently radiated widely came out of Africa, which remained intact as the continents shifted around over the ensuing eons, with the breakup of Pangea and then Gondwana to form the continents we see today. The African rift zone and mountain building in West Africa generated new habitats for the evolving frogs, Wake noted. The third, Hyloidea, radiated throughout what became South America.

Today’s frogs, comprising more than 6,700 known species, as well as many other animal and plant species are under severe stress around the world because of habitat destruction, human population explosion and climate change, possibly heralding a new period of mass extinction. The new study provides one clear message for future generations.

“These frogs made it through on luck, perhaps because they were either underground or could stay underground for long periods of time,” Wake said. “This certainly draws renewed attention to the positive aspects of mass extinctions: They provide ecological opportunity for new things. Just wait for the next grand extinction and life will take off again. In which direction it will take off, you don’t know.”

Ranidae frog evolution: here.

Tree frog on video


This June 26 video is about a tree frog basking in the sun in Meijendel nature reserve in the Netherlands.