The newly discovered species, named Minervarya Pentali , is endemic to the southern Western Ghats.
“We discovered it on wayside vegetation at multiple localities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu while surveying amphibians during the monsoon season. This species is also among the smallest known Minervaryan frogs, which is probably one of the reasons it was overlooked until now,” says Dr. Garg, the lead author of the study.
“It is a great privilege to name a frog species after Prof. Deepak Pental in appreciation of his tremendous support and encouragement for setting up of Systematics Lab at University of Delhi, where research leading to the discovery and description of nearly one-fourth of all known Indian amphibians has been carried out,” said Prof. Biju.
The new species — belonging to the family Dicroglossidae — was identified based on multiple criteria, such as external morphology, DNA and calling pattern. The study also resolved the identity and taxonomic status of all known members of the genus from peninsular India, in addition to clarifying the geographical ranges of species, and providing numerous new distribution records based on morphologically and genetically identified samples from a vast region, according to the researchers.
The researchers have called for special conservation efforts for the region, which is known for its rich biodiversity.
According to Prof. Biju and Dr. Garg, the amphibian diversity in this region is particularly remarkable as more than half of nearly 230 species of all known Indian species (~450 species) are found in the Western Ghats. Besides, over 90% of these are endemic to this region, which means they are not found anywhere else in the world.
The researchers said discoveries of such new species not only re-emphasise the uniqueness and endemism in Western Ghats’ amphibians, but also add to the growing inventory of this region’s diverse amphibian fauna. The new species was discovered from wayside vegetation, very much inside and around towns and cities. Habitat loss, modification, and other anthropogenic threats can lead to a population decline or complete wiping out of this newly discovered species, they said.