Stuart, Phimmachak, Seateun & Sheridan 2013
The small rhacophorid frog Philautus abditus is geographically restricted to central Vietnam and adjacent Cambodia. Our fieldwork in northern Laos resulted in the discovery of a Philautus species that very closely resembles P. abditus, but is at least 330 km from the nearest known locality of that species. The Laos population differs from P. abditus in mitochondrial DNA and coloration, and is described here as a new species. Philautus nianeae sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by having the combination of a hidden tympanum; no nuptial pads; smooth skin; large black spots on the hidden surfaces of the hind limbs; light venter with dark spotting; and a bronze iris. A second species of Philautus from northern Laos, P. petilus, is transferred on the basis of morphology to the genus Theloderma.
Keywords: Laos; new species; Philautus abditus; Philautus petilus; Rhacophoridae
Etymology. The specific epithet is a matronym for Dr. Niane Sivongxay, Professor of Biology at the National University of Laos, co-collector of the species, and cherished friend and colleague of the authors.
Distribution and natural history. Philautus nianeae is known from three localities in Vientiane, Bolikhamxay, and Khammouan Provinces in northern Laos (Figure 1). In Vientiane Province, males were found during mid-May calling at night (2015–2130 h) on vegetation within 2 m of the ground and within 5 m of streams and riverbanks in disturbed semi-evergreen forest, sometimes mixed with bamboo, at 490–548 m elevation. In Bolikhamxay Province, a female and three juveniles were found during early March on rainy nights (1912–1952 h) 1 m above the ground on sapling leaves and palm fronds within 3 m of small rocky streams in semi-evergreen forest at 471–488 m elevation. In Khammouan Province, males were found during mid-May calling at night (2000–2110 h) on vegetation 1.5–4 m above the ground in semi-evergreen mixed with pine forest near the edge of open grassland at 972–979 m elevation. The Nam Ngum River at the type locality in Vientiane Province is under concession for a hydroelectric power project, making the persistence of the species at the type locality uncertain.
Stuart, Bryan L., Somphouthone Phimmachak, Sengvilay Seateun & Jennifer A. Sheridan. 2013. A New Philautus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from northern Laos allied to P. abditus Inger, Orlov & Darevsky, 1999. Zootaxa. 3745(1): 73-83.