More Than 200 New Amphibians Discovered In Madagascar

 frog Boophis ulftunni

Highlighting a “vast underestimation” of Madagascar’s natural riches, up to 221 new species of amphibians have been found on the island country, including the frog Boophis ulftunni, pictured. The find nearly doubles the number of known amphibians in Madagascar, a new study says. (Pics)


An international team of scientists discovered the new species after collecting 2,850 specimens from more than 170 sites, including the country’s most visited and studied national parks. (Related: “Giant ‘Frog From Hell’ Fossil Found in Madagascar.”)

The work suggests that tropical amphibian diversity has been underestimated at an “unprecedented level” worldwide, the study authors write in the May 4 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“People think that we know which plant and animal species live on this planet,” team member Miguel Vences, of the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, said in a statement.

“But the century of discoveries has only just begun-the majority of life-forms on Earth is still awaiting scientific recognition.”

More Than 200 New Amphibians Discovered In Madagascar

frog in the Boophis genus

This frog in the Boophis genus was among more than 200 new species of amphibian discovered in Madagascar, one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet, experts said in May 2009.

In the previous 15 years, scientists had found more than a hundred new frog species in the island country, “which led us to believe that our species inventory is almost complete,” team member Frank Glaw, herpetology curator at Munich’s Zoologische Staatssammlung, said in a statement.

“But as our new surveys show, there are more species than we suspected.”

More Than 200 New Amphibians Discovered In Madagascar

frog Boophis bottae vences

Of the more than 200 new species of amphibian found scattered throughout Madagascar (including the frog Boophis bottae vences, pictured) more than 40 were discovered in two well-known national parks, Ranomafana and Mantadía/Analamazaotra.

Though many nature parks have been set aside in Madagascar during the past decade, the country’s political instability has led to illegal logging in the parks-“generating a lot of uncertainty about the future of the planned network of protected areas,” team member David Vieites, of Madrid’s Spanish National Natural Sciences Museum, said in a statement.

More Than 200 New Amphibians Discovered In Madagascar

frog in the Mantidactylus genus

The fourth largest island on Earth, Madagascar’s isolation supports a high number of species found nowhere else (above, a newfound frog in the Mantidactylus genus).

The recent discovery of more than 200 new amphibian species in the country stresses the need for thorough surveys to prioritize “conservation efforts within biodiversity hot spots,” including Madagascar, scientists said in a May 2009 study.

More Than 200 New Amphibians Discovered In Madagascar

frog species in the Boophis genus

Rampant habitat destruction in Madagascar may be affecting more species than previously thought, both among amphibians (above, a newfound frog species in the Boophis genus) and other kinds of animals, experts said in May 2009.

The deforestation rate in Madagascar is one of the highest on the planet, with more than 80 percent of the island’s forests already lost.

More Than 200 New Amphibians Discovered In Madagascar

newly identified frog in the Boophis genus

Amphibian patterns of diversity, especially in the tropics, are not well understood, mainly because of incomplete information on species classification and distribution. In May 2009, for example, researchers unexpectedly found more than 200 new amphibian species in Madagascar, including the newly identified frog in the Boophis genus pictured above.

Finding such an “extreme proportion” of amphibian diversity in Madagascar means experts will have to revisit what was previously known about the creatures, the scientists said.

 

Via National Geographic

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