Stunning green frog from evergreen forests of Arunachal
Patkai Green Tree Frog (Photo credit: Dr. Abhijit Das)

Guwahati: A team of researchers discovered a stunning green tree frog that makes insect-like sounds. The frog, Patkai Green Tree Frog (Gracixalus patkaiensis), was named after the historical ‘Patkai’ hills range where it was found.

The researchers leading the discovery are from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Senckenberg Natural History Collections, Dresden, Germany and Namdapha Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh. The team said this is the sixth new frog species discovered from Namdapha Tiger Reserve in the Patkai hills range and that this species breeds in swampy areas during the monsoon season.

In 2022, the frog was first found by the research team during a herpetological exploration in Namdapha Tiger Reserve and the discovery was published in the latest issue of the journal “Vertebrate Zoology”.

The research team said the call of the new frog species is very similar to that of insects. The call was first heard on 14 May, 2022, between half past 5 and 7 in the evening along a forest trail. The sound of the call ranges from a relatively longer “whistle” with narrow frequency bands to a short “click”  sound with a wider frequency band.

Gracixalus patkaiensis

“This is one of the most beautiful frog species from India- fresh and green,” revealed Abhijit Das of Wildlife Institute of India and the corresponding author of the study while speaking to EastMojo.

Patkai Green Tree Frog is a small species with a size measuring 23-26 millimetres. Its closest relative “Gracixalus gracilipes” is found in China, Thailand and Vietnam according to the study. The new species was described based on morphological and molecular study along with calling patterns. Researchers claim that over 15 species belonging to the genus “Gracixalus” were found in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, southern China and Myanmar prior to its discovery in India.

The newly discovered Patkai Green Tree Frog was found in a marshy habitat inside the evergreen forest of the Tiger Reserve, covered with cane, bamboo, rattan palm, fern and wild zingiber. Although the species has been found only in Kamala Valley Beat, popularly known as 25 mile in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, researchers say that it may inhabit microhabitats located in the interiors of the tiger reserve. “We are conducting field work to know more about the ecology of the species,” said Abhijit.

The region where the new frog species was found is regarded as one of the most intact and biologically rich landscapes (71,400 sq. km) but is yet to be known to conservationists and policymakers due to low priority in research and remoteness of the location. It is geographically unique “being the northernmost limit of tropical rain forest in the world”, stated the study.

The study further stated that the region provides a range of interesting habitats from the low-land hollong-mekai dipterocarp forest to alpine meadows. This region is hardly explored for herpetofauna and thus there is a huge scope for the discovery of more frog species.

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Protected areas are the cornerstone of wildlife conservation. The discovery of a unique new species might serve as an example for other protected areas, especially the least explored ones along the eastern borderland of India. According to the study, new research can help in transboundary conservation initiatives and future recognition of the area as a ‘UNESCO world heritage site’.

Also Read | Researchers discover new species of tree in Arunachal Pradesh

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