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Finding a new frog species is music to researchers’ ears

Picture of a news species of Music Frog found in India

A team of biologists from India working alongside a researcher from the University of Wolverhampton has discovered a new species of music frog. 

The biologists from Dehradun (Uttarakhand) based in the Wildlife Institute of India, and academic researchers from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton recently collaborated with the state’s forest department and discovered the new species of music frog in the Namdapha-Kamlang landscape of Arunachal Pradesh. 

The research project was funded through a National Geographic Explorer Grant awarded by the National Geographic Society. 

The new species was recorded from near Gandhigram, close to the Namdapha Tiger Reserve and has been named after the Noa-Dihing river as Noa-Dihing music frog (Nidirana noadihing). 

This new finding marks the third consecutive discovery of new species of amphibians from the extraordinarily biodiverse easternmost Tiger Reserve of India this year. These novel findings are also significant for the fact that all these discoveries represent new generic record for the country. 

Field surveys were carried out during August and September in 2022 in Changlang district and Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Researchers carried out nocturnal visual encounter surveys and followed acoustics of male anurans between 6.00 pm and midnight to locate the frogs aided with torch lights.  

Dr Deepak Veerappan, a herpetologist who is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Origins of Western Melanesian Diversity at the University, said: “This newly discovered frog grows up to six centimetres and is characterised by a pale cream-coloured line on the mid body, and with a unique call pattern consisting of two-three notes. Initially we first heard the call from a marsh near the Noa-Dihing river, which is quite similar to wild duck species, like “quack… quack… quack,” which we never heard before. 

“As the new species inhabits swampy areas, conservation of such habitats inside the protected area and its surrounding is crucial. The addition of three new species of amphibians within one year underscore the biological richness of the region and flag the need for further exploration in hyper diverse Namdapha-Kamlang landscape.” 

Subsequently, the species was also discovered in the surrounding marshy habitat of Glaw Lake in the Kamlang Tiger Reserve in 2022. 

The marshy habitat is dominated by a particular grass species called Rotala, in which the males make circular pits almost like their private pools and call from the pits to attract female frogs. The interesting breeding, egg-laying and parental care, if any, remain unknown for this interesting marsh-adapted frog species. 

The discovery of the new species from the close vicinity of one of the largest protected areas of Northeast India indicates that further study is likely to uncover more populations of Nidirana noadihing inside the Namdapha Tiger Reserve. 

The findings have been published in international peer-reviewed journals from Germany, London, and New Zealand. 

Deepak is a herpetologist broadly interested in conservation, ecology, evolution and systematics of amphibians and reptiles. He completed his PhD from Saurashtra University, India on the ecology and behaviour of Travancore tortoise in 2013. He is recipient of Marie-Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowship (2017–2019), National Geographic Explorer Award (2020–2022) and Humboldt Experienced Research Fellowship (2021–2022). He is section editor for Zootaxa (Asian and Australasian Snakes), Vertebrate Zoology (Amphibians) and Associate editor in Herpetological Journal. He has been a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum in London since 2019. 

Anyone interested in studying for courses in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton should register for one of our forthcoming Open Days. 


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