Thursday, November 17, 2016

Two new frogs: Indirana bhadrai and Indirana paramakri

Frogs from the family Ranixalidae are endemic to the Western Ghats of India. They are sometimes known under the common name Indian frogs, although the more correct name would be leaping frogs. They are small and slender-bodied frogs typically found in leaf litter or near streams. 

Two new species have now been discovered. One of them was named after the location it was found in (Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary ) and the other name is derived from two Malayalam (the official language of Kerala state) words – para meaning rock and makri frog – referring to the predominant occurrence of the frogs in rocky terrains.

For the experts: The monotypic anuran family Ranixalidae is endemic to India, with a predominant distribution in the Western Ghats, a region that is home to several unique amphibian lineages. It is also one of the three ancient anuran families that diversified on the Indian landmass long before several larger radiations of extant frogs in this region. In recent years, ranixalids have been subjected to DNA barcoding and systematic studies. Nearly half of the presently recognized species in this family have been described over the last three years, along with recognition of a new genus to accommodate three previously known members. Our surveys in the Western Ghats further suggest the presence of undescribed diversity in this group, thereby increasing former diversity estimates. Based on rapid genetic identification using a mitochondrial gene, followed by phylogenetic analyses with an additional nuclear gene and detailed morphological studies including examination of museum specimens, new collections, and available literature, here we describe two new species belonging to the genus Indirana from the Western Ghats states of Karnataka and Kerala. We also provide new genetic and morphological data along with confirmed distribution records for all the species known prior to this study. This updated systematic revision of family Ranixalidae will facilitate future studies and provide vital information for conservation assessment of these relic frogs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A new grass-miner moth: Chrysoclista germanica

The Elachistidae (grass-miner moths) are small to very small moths with wingspans of 1 cm or less. Their wings appear feather-like due to the fine hair covering the wings' fringes, and the hind wings can be much smaller than the front wings essentially consisting of a small strip with a wide hairy fringe. The caterpillars of these moths are - as their common name says - leaf miners or stem miners on grasses. 

There are about 800 species in this family and a new one from Germany was just added to the long list. Chrysoclista germanica was named after the country of origin. 

For the experts: Chrysoclista germanica sp. nov. is described from Germany (Thuringia, Bad Blankenburg). Chrysoclista gabretica Šumpich, 2012 stat. nov., originally described as subspecies of C. abchasica Sinev, 1986, is elevated to species level. Both taxonomic acts are based on the study of morphological characters of the adults (males). Photographs of voucher specimens including genitalia structures are given.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Three new birds: Stiphrornis dahomeyensis, S. inexpectatus, S. rudderi

A research team has discovered three never before documented bird species in West Africa. Two of the three species of forest robins, which all look pretty much alike at first glance, live in close proximity to one another in an area that lacks significant geographic barriers typically associated with the forming of new species. Despite this, the birds don't share genetic makeup and their appearance is indeed somewhat distinct when closely analyzed.

They are named Stiphrornis dahomeyensis or the Dahomey Forest Robin found in Benin and the central region of Ghana, the Stiphrornis inexpectatus or Ghana Forest Robin collected from Brong-Ahafo and Central Regions of Ghana, and the Stiphrornis rudderi or Rudder's Forest Robin discovered along the Congo River near Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For the experts: We describe three new species of forest robin in the genus Stiphrornis; two from West Africa and one from the Congo Basin. Each species represents a distinct phylogenetic lineage based on genetic analysis. In addition to genetic differentiation, each new species is diagnosable from other Stiphrornis lineages by morphology, and by plumage. One of the new species appears to be restricted to the Central and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana, and another is restricted to Benin and the Central Region of Ghana. In Ghana, these two new species presumably come into contact with Stiphrornis erythrothorax (Western Region of Ghana and westward), and there is evidence that one of the new species has a distinguishably different song from erythrothorax. The distribution of the third new species is primarily on the south bank of the Congo River, near the city of Kisangani. Recognition of these species provides additional evidence that Afrotropical forests are harbouring substantial cryptic diversity, and that our knowledge of the drivers of this diversity remains poorly documented across the region.