China Eco Tales: KFBG researchers described FOUR new amphibian species of the World from Yunnan, China

Posted Date: Thursday 7 June 2018    

Author: Maggie Fok (Assistant Project Officer of Kadoorie Conservation China Department)

Recently, four amphibian species new to science were described by researchers from Kadoorie Conservation China Department (KCC), a department of KFBG. These new species were discovered by KCC during biodiversity survey conducted in the last 2 years; and include one treefrog and three leaf-litter toads. They have been given the names Yingjiang Tree-hole Frog Nasutixalus yingjiangensis, Purplish-brown Leaf Litter Toad Leptolalax purpurus, Yingjiang Leaf Litter Toad Leptolalax yingjiangensis and Fei’s Horned Toad Megophrys feii.

The Yingjiang Tree-hole Frog is only found in well-preserved broadleaf evergreen forest at relatively high elevation, and its habit of breeding in tree holes up at canopy layer is unusual among frogs.

Figure 1. Yingjiang Tree-hole Frog

Normally, each forest only contains one species of Leaf Litter Toads in the genus Leptolalax. But in Yingjiang, we discovered three species, including the two new species and another species Leptolalax ventripunctatus, co-exist in a single stream, which has never been reported in China and is rare worldwide. Our finding will help future studies on the evolution of the genus Leptolalax.

Figure 2. Purplish-brown Leaf Litter Toad

Figure 3. Yingjiang Leaf Litter Toad

Figure 4. A pair of Yingjiang Leaf Litter Toad in amplexus

Fei’s Horned Toad was only found in streams in well-preserved broadleaf evergreen forest at relatively high elevation, and our preliminary result indicates it could be a new genus. Comprehensive study is underway to unveil the mystery.  

Figure 5. Fei’s Horned Toad vocalising

Figure 6. A pair of Fei’s Horned Toad in amplexus

The type localityª of all the new species is close to the Tongbiguan Provincial Nature Reserve and the international border with Myanmar’s Kachin State. It is expected that they also exist in well-preserved broadleaf evergreen forest in these areas.

Yingjiang County sits in Southwest China, which lies at the crossroad of Palearctic and Indomalayan biogeographic realms. Its unique geographical location nurtures rich biodiversity. However, the biodiversity is under threat by the clearance and degradation of forest for agriculture and urbanization. Of the new species we discovered, three were only found in an isolated but well-preserved primary forest of about 4 ha in size, which is owned by a local lady. KFBG and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) are helping this lady in preserving her land as a community-protected forest.

Our discoveries reveal that the reptile and amphibian of Yingjiang have been overlooked, and future survey will surely uncover more new species!

Articles are listed for your reference:

Yang, J. & Chan, B.P.L. (2018) A new phytotelm-breeding treefrog of the genus Nasutixalus (Rhacophoridae) from western Yunnan of China. Zootaxa 4388 (2): 191-206.

Yang, J., Zeng, Z., Wang, Y. (2018) Description of two new sympatric species of the genus Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae) from western Yunnan of China. PeerJ6:e4586.

Yang, J., Wang, J., Wang, Y. (2018) A new species of the genus Megophrys (Anura: Megophryidae) from Yunnan Province, China. Zootaxa 4413 (2): 325-338.

ªType locality: The location of the first described specimen of a species.

Other related materials:

In search of a sustainable conservation initiative in western Yunnan

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)