Guwahati: It was a unique “Trickling call” among the bryophyte-covered boulders of a brook in Namdapha, which led the researchers to find out more about the tiny streams.
A team of researchers led by Abhijit Das came across a unique frog along the tiny pools of water, which they had not seen before in India. It looked like a mix of a bush frog and a water frog.
The frog was formally named as “Alcalus fontinalis” meaning “spring or fountain” in reference to the tiny streams or brooks where the frog was found in Arunachal Pradesh.
“On 13 May 2022, during one of our nocturnal surveys along the Motijheel trail, we came across a unique “Trickling call” among the bryophyte-covered boulders of a brook. Tracing the clue we came across a unique frog along the tiny pools of water. We could not relate the frog with the call, but this stout little chap with dilated toes and wrinkled skin is something that we haven’t seen in India. It looked like a mix of a bush frog and a water frog,” Abhijit Das, a herpetologist with the Wildlife Institute of India told EastMojo.
The researchers led by Abhijit Das comprised Bitupan Boruah, Surya Narayanan, Jason D Gerard and V Deepak.
Recounting the journey, Abhijit Das said as the team proceeded through the peak herpetological season in Namdapha for the month, it came across multiple locations of this unique frog.
“However, all these locations had one thing in common. They are from tiny streams or brooks in the evergreen forest and mostly in the low to mid-elevation region,” he said.
The researchers team used multiple lines of evidence using morphological, osteological, and molecular analysis, revealing they are no ordinary frogs but members of a dwarf mountain frog of the genus Alcalus hitherto unknown from India.
He said the discovery is perhaps a great leap for these tiny frogs, which are otherwise known from Sunda Shelf and Palawan Island (Philippines) and Thailand. This discovery also indicates hidden diversity in the poorly sampled Myanmar region.
The finding was published in the latest issue of the NHM-UK-based journal “Systematics and Biodiversity”. This is the second species of frog discovered from Namdapha Tiger Reserve this year.
“Brook’s dwarf mountain frog is a small species with a body size of almost 3 cm. The discovery of a new frog from Namdapha Tiger Reserve further highlights the need for biodiversity surveys, especially in under-explored protected areas across the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot,” he said.
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Namdapha is one of the last remaining forests of the eastern borderland of India and the northernmost limit of tropical rainforests in the world. Before the description of our new species, Namdapha has been known as the type locality of five species of anurans, viz. Philautus namdaphaensis Sarkar & Sanyal, 1985, Raorchestes sahai Sarkar & Ray, 2006, Rohanixalus shyamrupus (Chanda & Ghosh, 1989), Microhyla eos Biju et al., 2019, Xenophrys ancrae Mahony et al., 2013 and Gracixalus patkaiensis (Boruah et al. 2023)
“The discovery of new amphibian species from Namdapha Tiger Reserve further highlights the need for biodiversity surveys, especially in under-explored areas across the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot,” he said.
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