Researchers identify new species of burrowing frog in urban Bengaluru

According to the researchers, Sphaerotheca varshaabhu has adapted to its urban surroundings displaying behaviours and physical attributes that help it navigate challenges posed by urbanisation

January 31, 2024 08:25 pm | Updated 08:37 pm IST - Bengaluru

The new species of frog Sphaerotheca varshaabhu found in Bengaluru.

The new species of frog Sphaerotheca varshaabhu found in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Researchers from various national and international organisations have identified and documented a previously unknown species of frog which has been thriving amidst the urban landscape of Bengaluru.

The researchers said that this discovery marks a significant milestone in biodiversity research and underscores the resilience of wildlife in unexpected urban ecosystems.

Named Sphaerotheca varshaabhu, attributed to its behaviour of coming out of burrows during the early showers, the newly unearthed amphibian exhibits distinctive characteristics that set it apart from known frog species.

“This discovery challenges our preconceptions about where new species can be found. The fact that such a unique frog has been living right under our noses in the heart of Bengaluru city is truly remarkable,” said Deepak P., the lead researcher of the study whose findings have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal Zootaxa.

It can be recalled here in 2020, a new species of burrowing frog named after Bengaluru city, Sphaerotheca Bengaluru, was described around the vicinity where the new species has now been found.

A chance find

Dr. Deepak stumbled upon the new frog species during a routine biodiversity survey conducted within Bengaluru city’s urban environment. The team of researchers utilised advanced genetic analysis, morphological studies and bioacoustics to confirm the distinctiveness of this newly-discovered amphibian.

According to the researchers, Sphaerotheca varshaabhu has adapted to its urban surroundings displaying behaviours and physical attributes that enable it to navigate the challenges posed by urbanisation. The discovery emphasises the need for continued exploration of urban ecosystems and the preservation of biodiversity in areas heavily impacted by human activities.

Urban and peri urban green locales

“Researchers are still clueless on the role of urban and peri urban green locales supporting biodiversity but the current research gives us an insight and hope on how larger spaces and waterbodies could be conserving the species in an urban context,” said Chetan Nag K.S., associate professor from CUBEC, Jain University.

The new species discovery is an outcome of multi-institutional collaborations like Mount Carmel College, Autonomous, Bengaluru; Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Western Regional Centre (WRC), Pune; JAIN (Deemed- to- be-University), Bengaluru; Institute of Systematics, Evolution, Biodiversity (ISYEB), National Museum of Natural History, CNRS, Sorbonne University, Paris, France; Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; Laboratory of Animal Behaviour and Conservation, College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Jiangsu, China and Genetics Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Yuvaraja College, University of Mysore, Mysore.

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