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New dancing frog species found in Western Ghats

May 9, 2014 14:14 IST

14 new species of dancing frogs were discovered in the Western Ghats of southern India by the scientists/biologists. These tiny acrobatic amphibians (frogs) were found by Indian biologists. The Indian Dancing frogs are scientifically known as Micrixalidae and their family comprises a single genus Micrixalus. Name of the species has been derived by their style of unusual kicks used to attract the mates.

The species of other dancing frogs are found in Central America and Southeast Asia. The Indian family evolved about 85 million years ago.

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They were identified by using molecular DNA markers and morphological descriptions. As per the biologists, they breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-rushing streams. Their size is a reason that breeding happens only when the level of stream drops down. The case is vice-versa in case when the streams dry out early, in such conditions they get caught without the right conditions to breed. These frogs are tiny in shape and are not bigger than a walnut and they can be swept away easily in the mountain stream.

The biologists also identified that their habitat appears to becoming increasingly dry.

Listing of these new species of the study was published in the Ceylon Journal of Science on 8 May 2014. This discovery has brought the number of known Indian dancing frog species to 24.

Some facts about the new species
Dance is done only by males: dancing is a part of their unique behavior for breeding and is called foot-flagging. In the process of the dance, they stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the side and this activity is performed to attract attention of the females. The biologists suggests that the dance is performed because might be possible that the females have trouble in hearing mating croaks over the sound of water flowing through perennial hill streams.

The biologists also suggested that dance depends upon the size of the frogs, bigger one dance more.

The species of other dancing frogs are found in Central America and Southeast Asia. The Indian family evolved about 85 million years ago. The Indian Dancing frogs are scientifically known as Micrixalidae and their family comprises a single genus Micrixalus.


About the discovery
The species were discovered after 12 years of extensive field studies that was conducted across the mountains of Western Ghats in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Project’s lead scientist: Sathyabhama Das Biju, professor of University of Delhi

Biological threat to Western Ghats that is older than the Himalayas
Western Ghats is the world’s most biologically exciting regions and hold about a quarter of all Indian species. It is a house of more than 325 world’s threatened species of plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds and fish. Some basic threats to the Ghats in the recent few decades are
• Constant assault by iron and bauxite mining
• Water pollution
• Unregulated farming and loss of habitat to human settlements

Increased population has resulted in the loss of about 25 percent of the forests from the Ghats.

The Union Environment Ministry in its report of 2010 claimed that the Ghats will also have an impact of the changing rainfall patterns happening due to climate change. This report was also supported by other scientific studies of recent past that suggests that the patterns will grow erratic in coming times.

Steps taken to protect the Western Ghats
To limit polluting industrial activities and human encroachment for the protection of the environmental zone across the Ghats the Indian government has taken several actions. Some of the actions are
• Decision of conversion of approximately 60000 square kilometers of the Western Ghats across six states into an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA)
• Banned mining, quarrying, thermal power plants and polluting industries over the entire range
• Made it compulsory to take prior consent of Village Councils (gram sabhas) for all other projects for being allowed in the zone

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This decision was taken by the Union Environment and Forests Ministry led by Jayanthi Natarajan as a follow-up action of the two reports on the Ghats. The two of the reports were
• One was presented by a commission headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil
• Second was presented by Planning Commission member K. Kasturirangan

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Read more Current Affairs on: Dancing frogs species , Western Ghats , acrobatic amphibians

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