An emerging frog diversity hotspot in the northwest Kimberley of Western Australia: another new frog species from the high rainfall zone

WA Museum Records and Supplements | Updated 1 years ago

ABSTRACT – Surveys to remote tropical areas of the world have continued to lead to new discoveries of species, including vertebrates. A recent survey in January 2010 to the northwest Kimberley was undertaken to look for new frog species. Among the taxa discovered (including plants and land snails) was a small species of Litoria in the Prince Regent River Nature Reserve. Litoria axillaris sp. nov. is superfi cially similar in appearance (body shape, limbs and webbing) and in call structure to L. tornieri, a ground hylid which occurs in the Kimberley region and east to the Top End of the Northern Territory. The new species differs, however, in being smaller (22.0–25.0 v. 28.5–33.0 mm total length), in possessing extensions of the lateral stripe posterior to the tympanum on the lower lateral surface and anteriorly to the tip of the snout, in having dorsolateral streaks, the upper lip pigmented, the chin only weakly pigmented on the edge of the jaw, and having thighs with poorly-defined markings. Litoria axillaris sp. nov. shares with L. tornieri similar advertisement calls, including intermittent and repetitive calls; however, pulse rates of calls of the new species are less than half of those in L. tornieri. Further, habitat use also differs noticably, with L. axillaris sp. nov. being found on top of sandstone platforms in highly dissected terrain while L. tornieri occurs in grasslands in tropical savannah. The new species is the fifth to be discovered and described as a result of wet season surveys targeting frogs in the Kimberley region since 2005. Its discovery highlights the high vertebrate endemism of the high rainfall zone of the northwest Kimberley and underscores the importance of protecting this biodiversity through the establishment of more extensive reserves and their proper management.

Author(s) Paul Doughty
Records 26 : Part 2
Article Published
Page Number