Thursday, 11 December 2014

A new species of Treefrog from Madagascar.

Treefrogs of the genus Boophis are found in Madagascar and the Comoros Islands, reaching maximum diversity in the rainforests of eastern Madagascar. There are over 70 species in the genus, most of them being fairly recent discoveries. The genus is split into two subgenera, Boophis, which breeds in streams, and Sahona, which breeds in ponds. The majority of species in the genus are placed within the subgenus Boophis, and there has been some effort to further subdivide this, though there is disagreement about how this should be done.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 18 August 2014, a team of scientists led by Samuel Penny of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol and the Bristol Zoological Society describe a new species of Boophis from the Sahamalaza – Iles Radama National Park on the Sahamalaza Peninsula in northwest Madagascar.

The new species is assigned to the subgenus Boophis and given the specific name ankarafensis, meaning ‘from Ankarafa’, in reference to the Ankarafa Forest, where it was found. The species is described from three male and one female specimens, collected in transitional forest at altitudes of 130-140 m in November and January. The males range from 22.9 to 24.0 mm in length while the female is 28.5 mm long (female Frogs are usually larger than males of the same species). The species is greenish in colour and translucent, with red and yellow spots on its dorsal surface.

Boophis (Boophis) ankarafensis, male and female specimens in amplexus (mating position). Penny et al. (2014).

The species has a distinctive call, which was used to search for further specimens, in order to map the distribution of the species. A total of 56 Frogs were found, including 48 males and 8 females. All were found in a very small geographical area, in small forest fragment, the Ankarafa Forest, close to two streams. The species could not be found in other habitats on the Sahamalaza Peninsula, notably being absent from the Anabohazo Forest (the only other piece of forest on the peninsula) or the swampland downstream of the Ankarafa Forest. Since the Ankarafa Forest only covers an area of about 5 km2, and is considered to be at risk from slash and burn agriculture, unregulated small-scale logging and fires on the surrounding grasslands, the species is considered to be Critically Endangered under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Habitat of Boophis (Boophis) ankarafensis in Ankarafa Forest. Penny et al. (2014).

See also…

Fanged Frogs of the genus Limnonectesget their name from fang-like protrusions on the jaws of the male Frogs. They are unusual for Frogs in that the males are larger than the females (the reverse is usually the case), and apparently defend territories through physical contests with other males, with females mating with the...
Fanged Frogs of the genus Limnonectesare found across southern China and Japan, as well as the Philippines, Southeast Asia and much of Indonesia. They are unusual in that the males are considerably...
Cryptic species are species that closely resemble other species, and cannot be separated by simple, non-invasive examination. While taxonomists have known about cryptic species for a long time, it was not...
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