Newest frog for India from Karnataka

The Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog is found only in a small industrial space in the city

May 16, 2018 10:20 pm | Updated May 17, 2018 03:25 pm IST

New species:  Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog is found only in a small industrial area in Mangaluru.

New species: Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog is found only in a small industrial area in Mangaluru.

The latest addition to India’s frog fauna is the Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog, which has been found in a small industrial region in coastal Karnataka.

The new find, described by a team of Indian scientists in the international journal Zootaxa on Tuesday, is christened Microhyla kodial after the city of Mangaluru (called kodial in the Konkani language) from where they spotted it two years ago.

The frog is seen only in a small industrial region here — a former timber dumping yard — surrounded by seaport, petrochemical, chemical and refinery industries. The yard is bounded by the rail line of the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited on one side and the busy National Highway 66 on another.

The frog’s presence in this urban area could have been easily overlooked given its small size too: the greyish-brown frog is just 2 cm long. A thick olive-green band on its head, less-prominent dark green bands on the rest of its body and a few other physical features also set it apart from other similar-looking frogs. However, it was the frog’s very distinct loud, long calls that prompted the study’s lead author Vineeth Kumar (of Karnataka’s Mangalore University) and his colleagues to study it further.

While the team’s surveys showed that the frogs are not seen outside of the urban area, behavioural observations revealed that the frogs breed only during the monsoon. Detailed genetic studies proved the team’s hunch right: the frogs were indeed a species new to science. Accidentally introduced? Interestingly, the scientists’ genetic work also reveal that the Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog is more closely related to southeast Asian frogs than Indian frogs. The industrial patch where the frogs are currently found used to be a depot for timber imported from southeast Asia; therefore, the frogs could have been accidentally introduced with timber that came from Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, write the scientists.

“There are several examples of animals including molluscs and Aedes mosquitoes that have been introduced to new places through traded goods,” said the study’s co-author N. A. Aravind of Bengaluru’s Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.

“The new species could need some attention because we noticed new construction and truck movement in the industrial area,” he added. The Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog is the 42nd species belonging to the genus Microhyla recorded from south Asia. More than 650 microhylids – or frogs belonging to the family Microhylidae – are found across the world’s tropics

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