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.

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