CHIKMAGALUR: A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and the Bombay Natural History Society have discovered two new species of bush frogs in the Shola patch forests of Dattatreya Peetha.
One of the species ‘Raorchestes echinatus’, a spiny-bodied frog, was discovered by a team comprising Vijayakumar,
K P Dinesh, Kartik Shanker and M V Prabhu. Due to its small size and the difficulty in tracing it amid the Kurinji plants, the team took a long time to confirm the identity of the species. This work is published in the internationally reputed journal Zootaxa based in New Zealand.
The tiny adult frog is just 2 cm long and fits on a thumb. The frog breeds by means of a process called ‘direct development’ where tiny froglets emerge out of an egg directly surpassing the tadpole stage. This species makes a chorus call that is barely audible owing to strong winds blowing on the Baba Budangiri hills during monsoon. This frog is active during monsoon and is a narrowly distributed species.
The second species, ‘Nyctibatrachus dattatreyaenesis’, was actually discovered in 2008 in the headwaters of Manikyadhara Falls.
Though researcher K P Dinesh who hails from Chikkamagaluru had sighted then, it took him almost six years to prove its identity. Raorchestes echinatus is found on the hill ranges of Dattapeeta.
The frog prefers high altitude hill ranges with Kurinji plants for its survival. This puts it at a greater risk of extinction than the more widely distributed taxa due to unauthorised collection of herbal plants in the Shola patch forests that face devastation due to eco-tourism. K P Dinesh has discovered 38 frog species.