A team of researchers including from the Zoological Survey of India, Western Ghat Regional Centre, Kozhikode has discovered a new species of limbless amphibian from Western Ghats, additional director of ZSI centre Kozhikode, C. Radhakrishnan told The Hindu here on Monday.

The new species, Ichthyophis davidi, a yellow striped caecilian according to him, has been discovered from the Belgaum district of Karnataka, which is part of the Western Ghat.

The new species Ichthyophis davidi is one of the largest known yellow striped caecilians from Western Ghats and is named in honour of David Gower, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, London, in recognition of his contributions to Indian caecilian studies, he said.

According to him, it has been systematically placed under the genus Ichthyophis of the Ichthyophiidae family. The members of the genus Ichthyophis include both striped and non-striped caecilians. These animals are nocturnal and are found in forests and plantations.

Western Ghats, one of the global biodiversity ‘hot spots’, support 25 species of legless amphibians (the caecilians). Among the 25 species, only 5 are yellow striped forms, which are limited in distribution. He said that the members of the team had also discovered a few other new species of amphibians from the region earlier.

Habitat destruction, due to human interference, and usage of chemical fertilizers in the plantations (areca, banana and cardamom) according to him is limiting the distribution of these limbless amphibians in Western Ghats. Conservation of the forested patches adjacent to plantations and usage of organic manure in the plantations next to forested patches are the best means to safe protect the caecilians in Western Ghats, he said.

Gopalakrishna Bhatta of the Department of Biology, BASE Educational Services Pvt. Ltd, Bengaluru; P. Prashanth of Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, Agumbe, Nirmal U. Kulkarni of Mhadei Research Centre, Belgaum and K.P. Dinesh of ZSI regional centre Kozhikode are the researchers behind the discovery besides Dr. Radhakrishnan. The discovery has been published in the latest issue of Current Science, he said.

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