Meet the new species of burrowing frog from Namma Bengaluru

Amphibian discoveries in India have been on the rise in the recent past, but most of them have been in biodiversity hotspots or forested landscapes with green cover. While documenting amphibians in parts of Karnataka that fall under the Deccan Plateau, a multi-institutional team including researchers from IISc encountered a new species of burrowing frogon the outskirts of Bengaluru. The species was named Sphaerotheca bengaluru, in recognition of Bengaluru’s reputation as India’s Silicon Valley. The new species was described based on morphological and genetic differences with known species of burrowing frogs across South Asia.

The discovery of the new species from the periphery of Bengaluru city highlights the importance of non-forested landscapes. Historically, Bengaluru was known as the “garden city” for its lush green cover and a large number of freshwater bodies. With growing urbanisation, the green cover has diminished and water resources have become scarce for “ecological indicators” such as frogs.

The new species is currently found in the peri-urban zones of Bengaluru which is dominated by agroecosystems mixed with dry deciduous vegetation without permanent water resources. More detailed field studies are needed to understand its distribution range and its natural history.

REFERENCE : Deepak, P., K.P. Dinesh, A. Ohler, K. Shanker, B.H. Channakeshavamurthy & J.S. Ashadevi (2020) A new species of Sphaerotheca Günther, 1859 (Anura: Dicroglossidae) from the degraded urban ecosystem of Bengaluru, Deccan Plateau, India. Zootaxa 4885 (3): 423-436.