New Frog Species Of The Genus Walkerana Discovered In India’s Western Ghats

March 12, 2020

Researchers have discovered and described a new species of frog in India’s biodiversity hotspot, the Western Ghats mountain range. The frog, according to the researchers, is the first new frog described from the genus Walkerana in more than 100 years.

Walkerana muduga

S P Vijayakumar

Walkerana muduga, was collected in 2016 by a team led by Dr. S. P. Vijayakumar of the Indian Institute of Science.

“After a span of 137 years, we have discovered a new frog species within the genus Walkerana,” K. P. Dinesh, lead author of the paper describing the new species, said in a statement. “The last few species descriptions within this genus date to 1876 and 1882.”

The frog, Walkerana muduga, was collected in 2016 by a team led by Dr. S. P. Vijayakumar of the Indian Institute of Science. It was found at an altitude of  1,544 meters above sea level in the Western Ghats Elivalmalai hill range.

Walkerana muduga is distinct from three other known Walkerana frogs, W. leptodactyla, W. diplosticta, and W. phrynoderma. The researchers used phylogenetic and morphological analyses to confirm it is indeed a new species.

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“First, we used molecular tools to obtain the DNA sequences for these individuals to compare them with the DNA sequences of other species within this genus,” study co-author Vijay Ramesh said in a statement released to the media. “This suggested that Walkerana muduga was genetically different from other species by almost 5% to 11% within a single gene. Second, morphological measurements were made, revealing highly divergent morphological characters when compared with other Walkerana species.”

The frog is named after the Muduga language, which is spoken by the Mudugar indigenous community of Kerala state’s Palghat district.

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