Padhye, Dahanukar, Sulakhe, Dandekar, Limaye & Jamdade, 2017
Sphaerotheca pashchima, a new species of burrowing frog, is described from western India. It can be diagnosed from all its congeners based on a combination of characters including interorbital width less than upper eyelid width, snout to nostril distance less than half of eye diameter, nostril nearer to snout than to eye, internarial distance greater than inter orbital distance, snout rounded, dorsum rough and warty, finger 2 length equal to or less than finger 4 length, finger 1 less finger 3 length, outer metatarsal tubercle absent, tibio tarsal tubercle absent, length of inner metatarsal tubercle more than three times the inner toe length and reduced webbing. We also provide 16S rRNA gene sequence for S. pashchima sp. nov. and show that it is genetically distinct from species of Sphaerotheca for which genetic data is available.
Keywords: Amphibia, molecular phylogeny, taxonomy.
Sphaerotheca pashchima sp. nov.
Suggested common name: Western Burrowing Frog
Holotype: BNHS 6000, male (41.0mm SUL), 05.vi.2016, India: Maharashtra: Saswad-Waghapur Road, Ambodi Village (18.3500N, 74.0410E, 747m), coll. S. Sulakhe et al.
Diagnosis: Sphaerotheca pashchima sp. nov. differs from all other congeners based on the following combination of characters: interorbital width less than upper eyelid width; snout to nostril distance less than half of eye diameter; nostril nearer to snout than to eye; internarial distance greater than inter orbital distance; snout rounded; dorsum rough and warty; finger 2 length equal to or less than finger 4 length; finger 1 less finger 3 length; outer metatarsal tubercle absent; tibio tarsal tubercle absent; length of inner metatarsal tubercle more than three times the inner toe length; and webbing formula I1--2-II1-3-III2-3½IV3½-2+V.
Etymology: ‘Pashchim’ (Sanskrit), means ‘west’ and is used to signify the distribution of the species in western India. Name is noun in apposition.
Habitat and ecology: S. pashchima is found widely distributed in western India. It inhabits variety of habitats from high to low rainfall areas. In high rainfall areas it is sympatric to S. dobsonii. It is also found in semi arid and arid parts of Deccan plateau. In semi arid and arid areas it breeds in temporary rain water pools immediately after the first flash rains. Adults gather in large numbers at potential breeding habitats. Tadpoles are bottom dwelling and frequently come to the surface of water for breathing. Juveniles are cannibalistic; a larger one devours the smaller one of its own species.
Distribution: Western parts of peninsular India from the states Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka (Image 3).
|Image 3. Distribution of Sphaerotheca paschima sp. nov. Western Ghats mountafn ranges are shown fn green.|
Dahanukar et al. (2017) provide a review of the species under the genus Sphaerotheca and identify three morphological groups for eight valid species in the genus. They also assign genetic barcode for S. breviceps, S. dobsonii and S. pluvialis so as to aid future studies in unambiguous identification of these three species. We describe S. pashchima sp. nov. from the S. breviceps group, which is morphologically distinct from all its congeners. We also provide genetic barcode as identity of the new species.
It is essential to note that earlier reports of S. breviceps by Padhye & Ghate (2002), Padhye et al. (2002), Dharne et al. (2004), Dahanukar & Padhye (2005), and Padhye & Ghate (2012) should be attributed to S. pashchima sp. nov. based on current study.
Dahanukar et al. (2017) mention that the sequence GU191122 for specimen identity as S. rolandae from Rajasthan is not of good quality and with several gaps; however, partial sequence comparison suggests that the species is misidentified and is likely to be S. pashchima sp. nov. indicating its presence in Rajastan.
Anand Padhye, Neelesh Dahanukar, Shauri Sulakhe, Nikhil Dandekar, Sunil Limaye and Kirti Jamdade. 2017. Sphaerotheca pashchima, A New Species of Burrowing Frog (Anura: Dicroglossidae) from western India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 9(6); 10286–10296. DOI: 10.11609/jott.28188.8.131.5286-10296