Providing fresh evidence on the extent of biodiversity in one of the hotspots of the world, scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have found nine new species of bush frogs in the Western Ghats.
Bush frogs are a miniature frog species distributed across South and South East Asia. Some categories of them are so small that they could fit a human thumbnail.
Belonging to the genus Raorchestes, the frogs are distributed across the Western Ghats.
Though many new species have been described in the last decade, more of them have likely remained undiscovered especially since they could not be distinguished by their appearance.
An IISc team led by S P Vijayakumar and Kartik Shanker sampled frogs from all over the Western Ghats, explicitly incorporating the region’s topographic and ecological variation. They then used a combination of molecular genetics, geography, frog morphology and other analytical tools to separate the frogs into “lineages” – descendants of a common ancestor that lived a million or more years ago.
The team describe nine new species.
Discovery of many lineages in geologically similar areas -Agasthyamalai in Kerala, Anaimalai and Nilgiris in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Kudremukh in Karnataka- reveals that the frogs have not been studied deeply.
The scientists estimate more than 20 potential new lineages separated from each other in the past. Populations of two species known only from historical records were also located. The findings have appeared in the international journal Zootaxa.