Thursday, June 23, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Philautus nephophilus • A New Small Montane Species of Philautus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Gunung Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo)

Philautus nephophilus 
 Dehling, Matsui & Imbun, 2016

 Three populations of small montane bush frogs previously assigned to Philautus mjobergi were compared using morphological, bioacoustic, and genetic (mitochondrial 16S rRNA sequence) data. The comparison revealed that the population from Gunung Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, represents a distinct species that is described herein. Although the new species differs from P. mjobergi in few morphological characters, most notably the acuminate snout, it is distinguished from this species and all other Bornean congeners by a unique advertisement call and large genetic differences. The population from Gunung Mulu assigned to P. mjobergi differs from the topotypic population from Gunung Murud in its advertisement call and 16S rRNA sequence and probably represents another, undescribed species.

Key words. DNA barcoding, advertisement call, Philautus mjobergi, Gunung Mulu, Sarawak, frog

Figure 4. A) Holotype (SP 27443; adult male) and B) adult male paratype (SP 27442) of Philautus nephophilus from Silau-Silau trail, Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, in situ prior to collection; C) Philautus mjobergi, adult male from Gunung Mulu (KUHE 54500) in life; D) Philautus mjobergi, paratype, adult male from Gunung Murud (BMNH 1925.9.1.2–6); E) Philautus mjobergi, adult male from near Bario (KUHE 53518) in life.

Etymology: The species epithet is composed of the Ancient Greek words νέφος [néphos], meaning cloud, and φιλεῖν [phileĩn], meaning to love; in allusion to the habitat of the new species in montane forest at Gunung Kinabalu that is often covered in clouds. The species is most active during or shortly after rain.

Distribution, habitat, and natural history: Philautus nephophilus is currently known with certainty only from the headquarters region of the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah where it is found at altitudes between 1,400 and 1,800 m. It probably also occurs at similar altitudes in the neighbouring Crocker Range. Around the headquarters of the Kinabalu NP, it is abundant and one of the most frequently encountered frog species. Calling males form aggregations in lower vegetation and are found on leaves or twigs at heights between 0.3 to 3 m above the ground. Individual males can be spaced from each other by distances of less than one to several meters. Males start calling at dusk and continue until dawn. Calling activity appears to increase after rain and during light rain showers. Calling groups are not found in the immediate vicinity of open water bodies, and the species is presumed to have a direct development without a free-swimming tadpole stage, as is observed in other species of the genus (Malkmus & Dehling 2008, Hertwig et al. 2012).

J. Maximilian Dehling, Masafumi Matsui and Paul Yambun Imbun. 2016. A New Small Montane Species of Philautus (Amphibia: Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Gunung Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo). SALAMANDRA. 52(2); 77–90

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