March 22nd, 2013 by Jake Richardson
In Peak Wilderness, Central Hills, of Sri Lanka eight new frog species have been discovered. Seven of them are already in danger of extinction. Research was conducted in a period between 2009 – 2011, mostly at night. Photographs were taken in color to document variation in physical appearances between them all.
The habitat where they were discovered is high altitude, which made the work challenging. It was precisely because the area is difficult to reach and explore, that the researchers decided to focus there. The landscape varies from 600 meters to 2,200 and the vegetation is cloud forest and lowland rain forests.
That the new species are mostly critically endangered is not so surprising, considering global trends like habitat loss, climate change and chytrid fungus – all of which are damaging and killing frog populations. Some human activities such as foot traffic due to religious pilgrimages, hydropower and pollution are also contributing to the new species decline. A government project to build a helipad there will also take a toll. (Talk about insensitivity!)
Fifteen field trips were taken to collect photographs and specimens. It was in 2007, that a new frog species was last discovered in the area.
Their study is titled, Eight new species of Pseudophilautus (Amphibia: Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Sripada World Heritage Site (Peak Wilderness), a local amphibian hotspot in Sri Lanka. Coincidentally, the number of researchers who worked on the study and species identified was also eight.
You can read the study paper online, but be warned the PDF file is over 130 pages and could require a long time to download.
Some of the project funders were Nagao Natural Environmental Foundation (Japan) and the Dilmah Conservation Sri Lanka.
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