- Scientists have described a new frog species found in the southern lowland forests of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.
- But the habitat where this frog is found is being devastated by encroaching oil palm plantations and infrastructure projects.
- The scientists who described the new species have called for the protection of lowland forests in southern Sumatra where other nearly extinct species live, including tigers and elephants.
BOGOR, Indonesia — Scientists from Indonesia and Japan have recently described a new frog species that is endemic to the island of Sumatra. The identification of this rare amphibian has also highlighted the threats to its habitat from encroaching oil palm plantations and a coal road project.
The researchers from Kyoto University, the Bogor Institute of Agriculture and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) described the new species, Micryletta sumatrana, in a paper published in the journal Zoological Science on May 27.
They described the species as having distinctive features from that of M. inomata, a species from the same genus found in northern Sumatra. The new frog also has a cricket-like croak, the authors said. Molecular trait testing eventually backed their hypothesis that they were looking at a species new to science.
“It is most similar to the frog from Vietnam,” said co-author Amir Hamidy, a herpetologist from LIPI, referring to M. nigromaculata, also known as the black-spotted paddy frog.
The scientists used samples collected by students on different field research from two protected forests in southern Sumatra, namely the Harapan forest and the Gumai Pesemah wildlife reserve. They reported that oil palm and industrial forestry concessions had encroached into both areas.
The Harapan forest is also threatened by a road project that the government has approved to connect a coal mine to a power plant. The area is one the last remaining lowland rainforests in Sumatra, and is home to nearly extinct species such as the Sumatran tiger and elephant (Panthera tigris sondaica and Elephas maximus sumatrensis).
“We’re not saying that this Sumatran mini frog is endangered because we don’t have the supporting data. But what’s clear is that its habitat is endangered,” Amir told Mongabay.
The scientists say they believe the frog inhabits other lowland forests in the southern part of Sumatra, and have called for the protection of these zones from plantations and large-scale infrastructure projects.
“It is our job to protect other species from the threat of extinction,” Amir said.
Munir, M., Hamidy, A., Matsui, M., Kusrini, M. D., & Nishikawa, K. (2020). A new species of Micryletta (Amphibia: Anura) from Sumatra, Indonesia. Zoological Science, 37(3), 295-301. doi:10.2108/zs200006
Banner image of Micryletta sumatrana courtesy of Eki Aprilia Resdiyanti Devung/Bogor Institute of Agriculture.
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