China Eco Tales: New amphibian species discovered in Yunnan’s Gaoligongshan

Posted Date: Tuesday 12 April 2016    

Ever since zoologist John Anderson’s first expedition to Tengchong in 1867, Gaoligongshan has attracted generations of herpetologists home and abroad. Many new amphibian species were first discovered from Tengchong, examples are Spiny Stream Toad (Bufo tuberospinius), Green-spotted Torrent Frog (Amolops viridimaculatus) and Yunnan Pitviper (Trimeresurus yunnanensis).


          New amphibian species from Tengchong - The Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad (Leptolalax tengchongensis)

The joint biodiversity survey by Kadoorie Conservation China, a department of KFBG, and the Tengchong Bureau of Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve in Yunnan Province yielded another exciting discovery, when a new amphibian species was discovered by the survey team in a montane forest stream of the Reserve.


                               Features of the Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad include red dots at the back and large     black blotches on the sides.

Taxonomic study revealed that it represents an undescribed species, which has been named Leptolalax tengchongensis, with common name “Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad”. Considering Tengchong’s popularity for herpetologists, it is surprising that the Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad is the first amphibian species named after Tengchong.

             Despite its distinctive appearance the new species is well-camouflaged among the leaf litters.

The Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad is a small toad with body length of no more than 3cm. Its brown body has scattered red dots at the back and the sides have large black blotches; despite its distinctive appearance the new species is well-camouflaged among the leaf litters. Being restricted to mountain brooks of primary forest, Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad is sensitive to water pollution.


             The Tengchong Leaf Litter Toads in amplexus. The male has smaller body size than the female.

Males of the Tengchong Leaf Littler Toad give out mating call which resembles that of crickets during the breeding season of April and May.

The discovery of Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad signifies that the amphibian biodiversity of Gaoligongshan is underestimated; a few more potentially new species have been discovered by our team and more good news are to be expected.

         The Tengchong Leaf Litter Toad (Leptolalax tengchongensis)


The male Jerdon’s Tree Frog (Hyla annectans) calling – photo taken in Zizhi, Tengchong.


      The male Glandular Horned Toad (Megophrys glandulosa) calling – photo taken in Qushi, Tengchong.


Yunnan Pitviper (Trimeresurus yunnanensis) – photo taken in Qushi, Tengchong.

All photos taken by Yang Jianhuan /Kadoorie Conservation China