Night calls reveal two new rainforest arboreal frog species from western New Guinea

Tracked by their calls at night after heavy rains, two species of narrow-mouthed frogs have been recorded as new. During the examinations it turned out that one of the studied specimens is a hermaphrodite and another one represents the first record of the genus Cophixalus for the Misool Island.

The field work, conducted by Steve Richards, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, and his team, took place in the Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesian part of New Guinea. Their findings, compiled by Dr. Rainer Guenther, Museum fur Naturkunde, Berlin, are available in the open access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

Belonging to the narrow-mouthed frog genus Cophixalus that occurs mainly in New Guinea and northern Australia, the two new species have been differentiated by their morphological features along with the specificity of their advertisement calls, produced by males to attract their partners. Both are characterised by small and slender bodies, measuring less than 23 mm in length.

Curious enough, when dissected one of the male specimens, assigned to the new species C. salawatiensis, revealed a female reproductive system with well-developed eggs. Simultaneously, neither its sound-producing organs, nor its calls differed in any way from the rest of the observed males from the same species. Therefore, it is to be considered a hermaphrodite.

Both new frog species have been retrieved from logged lowland rainforests. There the scientists noted that after heavy rains at night the males perched on leaves of bushes and produced sounds, characteristic for each species.

All specimens have been placed in the collection of the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (MZB) in Cibinong (Bogor), Indonesia.

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Original source:

Guenther R, Richards S, Tjaturadi B, Krey K (2015) Two new species of the genus Cophixalusfrom the Raja Ampat Islands west of New Guinea (Amphibia, Anura, Microhylidae).Zoosystematics and Evolution 91(2): 199-213.doi: 10.3897/zse.91.5411

Dark and marked: Strikingly colored new fleshbelly frog from the Andean cloud forest

Carrying itself around with a dark brown mask on its face and a broad shapeless white mark on its chest and belly, a frog had been jumping across the Peruvian cloud forests of the Andes unrecognised by the scientific world. Now, this visibly distinguishable species has been picked up by Dr. Catenazzi of Southern Illinois University and his team from its likely only locality, a cloud forest near Cusco in Peru, at 2350 m elevation by Drs. Catenazzi, Uscapi and May. Their research is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The new fleshbelly frog species, called N. madreselva, was discovered by Peruvian researcher Vanessa Uscapi in January 2011 amid leaf litter in the humid montane forest of the Andes. Locally abundant and active during the day, the leaping amphibian was found to be small of size and leading a predominantly terrestrial life. It is likely that the new species has restricted distribution, inhabiting the upper watersheds in the valleys adjacent to the locality where it has been discovered.

The name “madreselva”, which translates to “mother jungle” from Spanish, honours the efforts of local conservation initiatives, such as the local ecotourism lodge Madre Selva and the ecological project Sircadia, that aim at protecting the delicate and biologically rich montane forest ecosystems in the region. The new frog is locally abundant in parts of the forest that are protected from logging.

Described by the authors as “striking”, the colouration is what visibly differentiates the new frog species from its relatives. Most noticeably, it stands out with the wide irregularly shaped white mark on black background all across, stretching from the creature’s chest down to its belly. A brown splash on its head forms a distinguishable dark facial mask.

Because of the frog’s limited habitat, the scientists fear that the species is threatened by a large number of risks, including deforestation, diseases and the agricultural activities in the region. However, as for the moment, the frog has been proposed by the researchers to be classified as “Data Deficient” in the IUCN Red List, until new data regarding its distribution become available.

Being often neglected by explorers, small amphibian species like this fleshbelly frog are at high risk of extinction, claim the authors. “It is therefore imperative to document the highly endemic amphibian faunas of wet montane Andean forests as a first step towards designing a network of natural reserves that maximizes protection of amphibian biodiversity,” they insist.

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Original source:

Catenazzi A, Uscapi V, von May R (2015) A new species of Noblella (Amphibia, Anura, Craugastoridae) from the humid montane forests of Cusco, Peru. ZooKeys 516: 71-84. doi:10.3897/zookeys.516.9776