Indian researchers in collaboration with the US have found five new species of shrub frogs from the Western Ghats which is one of the globally recognized biodiversity hotspots. The newly discovered frogs belong to the Old World tree frog family Rhacophoridae. As per the report, the researchers from the University of Delhi, Kerala Forest Research Institute, and the University of Minnesota have participated in the study. The discovery is a part of a 10-year extensive investigation on the Shrub frogs (genus Raorchestes) of the Western Ghats.
The identification of the new species was based on multiple criteria like the frogs’ external morphology, DNA, calling pattern, behavior, and other natural history observations. The study was done under the leadership of Delhi University, Professor Biju. It is published in an international journal with the title ”An integrative approach to infer systematic relationships and define species groups in the shrub frog (genus Raorchestes), with the description of five new species from the Western Ghats, India”. The study is co-authored by Sonali Garg, Robin Suyesh, Sandeep Das, Mark A Bee, and Prof S D. According to the research, one of the new species called Raorchestes drutaahu (Fast-calling Shrub Frog) was found from Kadalar in the Idukki district and Siruvani in Palakkad district of Kerala. Another one named Raorchestes kakkayamensis (Kakkayam Shrub Frog) was seen only in Kakkayam dam in the southern state.
The third species Raorchestes keirasabinae (Keira”s Shrub Frog) which is a unique tree frog inhabitant of the highest canopy layers was seen in Agasthyamalai and Anamalai hills in the southern Western Ghats. The fourth species Raorchestes Sanjay Pai (Sanjappa”s Shrub Frog) which is named after Dr. M Sanjappa, a renowned Indian Botanist and former Director of the Botanical Survey of India, was uncovered from the Wayanad region of northern Kerala. The fifth species Raorchestes vellikkannan (Silver-eyed Shrub Frog) was reported to present in the Siruvani hills and nearby regions of the Silent Valley National Park. The name refers to its distinct silver eye color.