India: 12 new species of frogs discovered in Western Ghats

A dozen previously unknown species of frogs have been discovered in
the forests of Western Ghats according to a paper published in latest
issue of Zoological Journal of Linnean Society, London. The 12 species
have been identified following a revision of the Philautus genus and
are the result of ten years of field study in Kerala, Tamil Nadu,
Karnataka. Goa, Maharashtra, and part of Gujarat, in the Western
Ghats. The Western Ghats are considered a global biodiversity hotspot
for their species richness and the threats the mountain range faces.

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The finds include a rediscovery of a ‘lost species’, the Travancore
bushfrog (Philautus travancoricus) which was thought to be extinct.
The new discoveries bring the number of new species described by Delhi
University herpetologist S D Biju and colleagues to 25 since 2003. The
discoveries include the famed “purple frog” (Nasikabatrachus
sahyadrensis) belonging to a new family of frog, Nasikabatrachidae;
the dimmunitive Nyctibatrachus minimus, the smallest herp in India;
and the first Indian canopy frog, Philautus nerostagona, among others.

“Seven of the 12 new species were only found in unprotected areas,”
stated a news release from Delhi University. “Habitats are rapidly
disappearing and immediate steps are required to protect the remaining
forests from human activities.” Amphibians are one of the most
threatened groups of animals. Frogs, salamanders, and caecilians are
declining worldwide due to habitat loss, over-collection as food and
for the pet trade, the outbreak of a deadly fungal disease, pollution
and pesticides, introduced species, and the effects of climate change.
Some of these forces are interacting synergistically to further
increase their vulnerability to extinction. Since 1980 more than 200
species are believed to have gone extinct.

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