New Diamond Frog From Northern Madagascar – “As Soon as I Saw This Frog, I Knew It Was a New Species!”

Rhombophryne ellae Diamond Frog

The brand new species, Rhombophryne ellae, is properly camouflaged among the many rainforest leaflitter. Credit score: Mark D. Scherz

Regardless of the lively ongoing taxonomic progress on Madagascar’s frogs, the amphibian stock of this hyper-diverse island remains to be very removed from being full. The identified variety of the diamond frog genus Rhombophryne in Madagascar has elevated considerably (greater than doubled!) over the past 10 years, however nonetheless there are a number of undescribed candidate species awaiting description. New species are continually being found in Madagascar, usually even inside already well-studied areas. One such place is the Montagne d’Ambre Nationwide Park in northern Madagascar.

Montagne d’Ambre Nationwide Park is broadly identified for its endemic natural world, waterfalls and crater lakes, and thought of to be a comparatively well-studied space. But, solely two research have been revealed up to now on the reptiles and amphibians of the Park.

Rhombophryne ellae

Rhombophryne ellae is a small, in all probability semi-fossorial (sub-terranean-dwelling) species of diamond frog, at dwelling amongst the leaf litter of Montagne d’Ambre Nationwide Park, north Madagascar. Credit score: Mark D. Scherz

Serving the pursuit of data of the herpetofauna within the area, Germany-based herpetologist Dr. Mark D. Scherz (Bavarian State Assortment of Zoology, Technical College of Braunschweig, College of Konstanz) revealed an outline of a brand new diamond frog species: Rhombophryne ellae, within the open-access journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

“As soon as I saw this frog, I knew it was a new species,” shares Dr. Scherz, “The orange flash-markings on the legs and the massive black spots on the hip made it instantly apparent to me. Throughout my Grasp’s and PhD analysis, I studied this genus and described a number of species, and there aren’t any described species with such orange legs, and solely few species have these black markings on the hip. It’s uncommon that we discover a frog and are instantly in a position to acknowledge that it’s a new species with out having to attend for the DNA sequence outcomes to come back again, so this was elating.”

Montagne d'Ambre National Park Camp During Cyclone Ava

Rhombophryne ellae was captured simply as Cyclone Ava started to make itself felt throughout Madagascar with excessive winds and heavy rain. The camp the place Dr. Scherz and his workforce have been primarily based turned flooded, with rivers working via the kitchen and sleeping space. Depressing climate for people, however a time of elevated exercise for among the extra elusive amphibians of the forest. Credit score: Mark D. Scherz

The brand new species is most intently associated to a poorly-known and nonetheless undescribed species from Tsaratanana in northern Madagascar, however is in any other case fairly totally different from all different diamond frogs. With the orange coloration on its legs, Rhombophryne ellae joins the rising listing of frogs which have purple to orange flash-markings. The perform of this hanging coloration stays unknown, regardless of having developed repeatedly in frogs, together with quite a few occasions in Madagascar’s narrow-mouthed frogs alone.

“The discovery of such a distinctive species within a comparatively well-studied park points towards the gaps in our knowledge of the amphibians of the tropics. It also highlights the role that bad weather, especially cyclones, can play in bringing otherwise hidden frogs out of hiding–Rhombophryne ellae was caught just as Cyclone Ava was moving in on Madagascar, and several other species my colleagues and I have recently described were also caught under similar cyclonic conditions,” says Dr. Scherz.

The species is thought up to now solely from a single specimen, making it tough to estimate its conservation standing. But, primarily based on the standing of different, associated frogs from the identical space, it is going to in all probability be Purple-listed as Close to Threatened as a consequence of its presumably small vary and micro-endemicity.

Reference: “Diamond frogs forever: a new species of Rhombophryne Boettger, 1880 (Microhylidae, Cophylinae) from Montagne d’Ambre National Park, northern Madagascar” by Mark D. Scherz, 15 June 2020, Zoosystematics and Evolution.
DOI: 10.3897/zse.96.51372

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