Poshan Outlook

Researchers Develop New Approach to Identity Cryptic Species

Frogs of genus Minervarya are common throughout south Asia. However, there is very little information on their genetic data and distribution range. In India, the species, Minervarya Syhadresnsis, is abundant in the northern Western Ghats.

Poshan Outlook
November 13, 2020
Researchers Develop New Approach to Identity Cryptic Species

 

Frogs of genus Minervarya are common throughout south Asia. However, there is very little information on their genetic data and distribution range. In India, the species, Minervarya Syhadresnsis, is abundant in the northern Western Ghats.


Thomas Nelson Annadale, a Scottish zoologist found and described frogs of species Minervarya Syhadresnsis from Maharashtra back in 1919. Recently, almost after an entire century, a team of researchers led by Dr. Samadhan Phuge from Savitribai Phule Pune University and Dr. K. P. Dinesh from Zoological survey of India (ZSI) Pune, analyzed the frogs of species Minervarya Syhadresnsis and frogs of genus Minervarya mainly from Pune district of Maharashtra, India. This study has been published in the journal – Zootaxa.

 

Identifying frog species is a bit tricky as they are morphologically cryptic. Cryptic species may have polymorphic morphological characters which could lead to improper analysis of information. But lately, researchers could come up with a successful approach towards this problem of identification of cryptic species by means of acoustic, behavioural and reproductive studies.

 

According to the new study, the genera Minervarya and Fejervarya of family Dicroglossidae, are both found to have similar characteristics. Both of them have Fejervaryan lines on both sides of the belly. However, due to lack of data and information the status of many frogs belonging to these two genera remains unclear for the researchers.

 

This research attempted to generate genetic data of M.Syhadrensis from Pune district, Maharashtra. While exploring two species of Minervarya it has been observed, Minervarya species A and Minervarya species B, both of these species were found to have morphology similar to M.Syhadresnsis. It has also been observed that males of both the types embrace any egg-carrying females around.

 

Minervarya A species having longitudinal skin folds on the dorsal side made them similar to M.Syhadresnsis. Also, thorough analysis of DNA sequences resulted in a proposition to consider M.caperata as a junior synonym of M.Syhadresnsis.

 

The researchers through their work, “Importance of genetic data in resolving cryptic species: A century old problem of understanding the distribution of Minervarya Syhadrensis Annandale 1919”, (2020), provided a new hope for amphibian studies despite facing numerous challenges.