Australia’s well-known noisy frog is actually 3 different species: study

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KEY POINTS

  • Researchers have discovered two new species of very loud frogs
  • It was previously thought to be a single species
  • Citizen science played an important role in the discovery

What was believed to be one species of frog turned out to be three different species! The startling discovery was made after researchers discovered two new species of “Australia’s loudest frog.”

The bleating tree frog (Litoria dentata) is fairly well known in Australia because of the “extremely loud and piercing calls” of males, researchers from a new study said, published in Zootaxa. The species is widespread, with its “wide latitudinal distribution” encompassing some biogeographical boundaries.

However, it looks like there may be more to these noisy frogs than previously thought.

“A recent analysis of mitochondrial DNA showed a deep phylogeographic rift between populations of L. dentata on the north coast of New South Wales,” the researchers wrote.

For their work, the researchers conducted a “more geographically complete mitochondrial phylogeographic analysis”. They also analyzed the submissions made to the FrogID project, a citizen science project where members of the public can submit recorded frog calls, Newcastle University Noted in a press release.

The team found that although they look and sound quite similar, there are actually three species of these noisy frogs and none. They include L. dentata, which is apparently “restricted” to the northeast coast of New South Wales; Litoria balatus (slender tree frog) in southeast Queensland; and Litoria quiritatus (howling tree frog) in northeast Victoria.

This brings the number of frog species native to Australia to 246.

“Our review found that their calls differ slightly in terms of duration, treble and speed of fire,” said Dr. Jodi Rowley, senior scientist on the FrogID project, according to the university press release. “The slender, bleating tree frog has the shortest, fastest, and highest-pitched calls.”

The species has also varied slightly in appearance, the university noted, with the slender flying tree frog being somewhat more slender with a “distinctly black” vocal sac, while the howling tree frog is not as slender and has a vocal sac. bright yellow. . The sturdy tree frog, on the other hand, looks quite similar to the howling tree frog, but has a “brownish” vocal sac that turns yellow when swollen.

“Although similar in appearance and in their screeches, frogs are genetically very different. I am still amazed that it took us so long to discover that Australia’s loudest frog is not one but three species. “said Professor Steven Donnellan of the South Australian Museum, reported in the press release. “How many other species not described in the ‘silent director’ category are awaiting their scientific debut? “

The work also highlights the value of citizen science in helping conserve frogs, Rowley said. According to the FrogID project, “almost all” of the more than 240 species of frogs in Australia cannot be found elsewhere in the world. While some of them are flourishing, some have declined since the 1980s and four have even disappeared.

“By recording a frog call with the FrogID app, you provide a unique, time-stamped and georeferenced audio recording that enables scientists to understand and conserve Australia’s unique frog species,” the project noted.

Representative image of a frog. Photo: Pixabay

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