Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary Current Affairs

Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi: New night frog species discovered in Western Ghats

Scientists have discovered new species of frog named Mewa Singh’s night frog (Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi) in Kozhikode’s Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala in Western Ghats. It was discovered in small stream running along the Peruvannamuzhi dam. It is latest contribution to spurt in amphibian discoveries across India.

About Mewa Singh’s night frog

It belongs to genus Nyctibatrachus (commonly known as night frogs) endemic only to Western Ghats mountain range. This group has total 36 number of night frogs including Mewa Singh’s night frog. It has been named in honour of wildlife scientist Mewa Singh for his contributions to behavioural ecology and primate studies.

The new night frog species is light brown in colour with an off-white underside. It sports faintly wrinkled skin with prominent granular projections. Currently, it is known only from Peruvannamuzhi in Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary in a small stream running along Peruvannamuzhi dam.

Background

Since many frogs in genus Nyctibatrachus look similar, scientists had used both physical characteristics as well as genetic methods to confirm frog as new species. Using tissue samples of 10 collected specimens of newly discovered species, scientists analysed portions of two genes and found that it varied enough from other closely-related species to make it different species.

They also had found that frog’s genetically closest relatives are Athirappilly night frog (found south of Palakkad Gap in Idukki and Thrissur) and Kempholey night frog (found in Western Ghats of Karnataka and northern Kerala).

Morphologically, it can be distinguished from its similar-looking and genetically close relatives by several physical characteristics, including pattern of its webbed fingers and toes.

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New termite species named Chiraharitae discovered

A new termite species Glyptotermes Chiraharitae was discovered at Kakkayam in the Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala.

It has been named ‘Chiraharitae’ after the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, where it was spotted.

Key Facts

  • Termites are of three types —damp wood, dry wood and subterranean. Glyptotermes Chiraharitae species are of the damp wood category.
  • They infest parts of woods with high moisture content, the decaying or rotting areas in particular. They are exclusively wood dwelling and do not require any contact with soil.
  • The flying adults of this species are approximately 10 mm long, while the soldiers are around 9.5 mm long.
  • Its relatives are known to attack mango, sal, Rhododendron, banyan trees, Artocarpus, silver oak, and jamun trees.

Compared with other insect groups, termites are not a multifarious speciose. In India there 285 species of termites and among them 61 are documented from Kerala.

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