BHUBANESWAR: A group of herpetologists has discovered two new species, one each from
the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats, of cricket frogs of the genus Fejervarya which is one of the Asian genera of frogs in the Dicroglossidae family.
The frog species - Fejervarya kalinga and Fejervarya krishnan, spotted for the first time in the world, are indicator of a healthy ecosystem and can be modeled to study the impact of climate change.
The herpetologists of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and North Orissa University (NOU) who have discovered the frogs claimed that the frogs of Kalinga species bredonly during winter instead of rainy season.
While the Kalinga frog was first spotted from various localities in Eastern Ghats by renowned herpetologist Prof Sushil Kumar Dutta of NOU, the Krishnan cricket frog was collected by Prudhvi Raj, a post-doctoral research scholar associated with WII, from a locality near Jog Falls in Shivamogga district of Karnataka.
The species discovered from the Eastern Ghats is widely distributed in the hilly mountains in Similipal, Satkosia, Barbara and Mahendragiri and named after the ancient kingdom Kalinga, the historicaldomain comprising the States of Odisha and part of Andhra Pradesh.
The frog species - Fejervarya kalinga (image) and Fejervarya krishnan,spotted for the first time in the world, areindicator of a healthy ecosystem and can bemodeled to study the impact of climate change.The other species found only in Jog Falls has been named after the eminent biologist late K Subrammaniasastri Krishnan for his colossal contribution in the field of biological sciences.
“The new species are habitat specialists, living in perennial hill streams. They remained unnoticed due to their secretive habit and morphological similarities with other similar looking species of cricket frogs. Many herpetofaunal novelties are yet to be formally discovered from the Eastern and Western Ghats,” said Prof Dutta.
The Peninsular India harbors a unique and diverse amphibian fauna. Many new species have been described from the region having bio-geographic and conservation significance. The Indian sub-continent is represented by 29 species of Fejervarya.
Pratyush Mohapatra, a scientist at the Jabalpur-based Central Zone Regional Centre of ZSI, said cricket frogs live in wide habitat ranges in agricultural fields, streams, swamps and wetlands.
“But the new species are cryptic in nature. The wet zones across the Eastern Ghats are refugees of many such species which need conservation attention because they are vanishing at a faster rate,” he added.
Another researcher KP Dinesh, who is involved in discovery of many new species of cricket frogs, is attempting to develop handy morphological keys for the easy identification of the frogs.
“Identification of these frogs on the field is a difficult task due to the morphological crypticity,” he said.
The Kalinga cricket frog found in the range from Godavari river basin to Mahanadi river basin is one of the largest of its group and grows up to 6.5 cm, whereas the Krishnan cricket frog is of two cm in average size.
Other two herpetologists involved in the recent study are Abhijit Das, a scientist at WII and Niladri B Kar, a post-doctoral research scholar at NOU.