Fejervarya gomantaki © Saunak P Pal

In the lowland areas of the Western Ghats parts of the Goa and in the hilly tracts of the Belgaum, it is quite common to hear the tinkling ‘trick, trick’ 12 to 14 note chorus call from the mud pools, paddy fields and local water bodies in the monsoon during the late evening. Many of these are terrestrial frogs sitting next to water bodies making calls to attract females for mating. Although most of these frogs are terrestrial, they need water bodies to breed in. These terrestrial frogs belong to the amphibian genus Fejervarya of the family Dicroglossidae and are commonly known as either ‘cricket frogs’ or ‘fejervaryan frogs’. These frogs range in size from small (19 mm) to large (56 mm) are distributed throughout Asia. Most fejervaryan frogs are morphologically very similar and difficult to identify on the basis of external characters alone, creating taxonomic uncertainty in terms of names, identification and systematics.

A team led by K.P. Dinesh, S.P. Vijayakumar, Varun Torsekar and Kartik Shanker of Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; B.H. Chennakeshavamurthy of Zoological Survey of India, Calicut and Nirmal Kulkarni of Mhadei Research Centre, Goa have published their findings on a new species of tiny fejervaryan frogs in the recent edition of the international taxonomic journal Zootaxa. The new species is called ‘Fejervarya gomantaki‘ after the state of Goa where this species is found. Most fejervaryan species in South and South-east Asia are cryptic and difficult to identify on the basis of morphology alone. The authors have used a combination of morphology, geographic distribution range and molecular methods to describe the new species. In addition, the authors provide an overview of the systematics of the group and recommend additional sampling across the Asian continent.

At present, the new species is known to be found in low lying water logged areas of Goa and the adjoining hill ranges of Belgaum where it is abundant locally. However, more detailed studies of this species are necessary to map its distribution range and understand its biology.

Nirmal U Kulkarni
Herpetologist and Wildlife Photographer
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