New frog species discovered…. in NYC

With the use of molecular and technology associated methods becoming more readily available, it is no surprise that they are redefining what we know about current species. Researchers at Rutgers University have been examining the Rana genus of frog (or ‘leopard frogs’) in relation to 2 species in particular R. pipens and R. sphenocephela. They have used a combination of bio-acoustic and molecular techniques combined with the more historical methods of examining the morphology of the species in question to correctly define the species’ characteristics.

When we think of discovering a new species, I’m sure the majority of us would cut to images of explorers trekking through uncharted territory in the Amazon or deep underground. However as a consequence of this research, a new species of leopard frog has been characterised, R. kauffeldi, and it was found right under the noses of the 8.4 million New York City residents.

Rana kauffeldi. © Feinberg et al.

Rana kauffeldi. © Feinberg et al.

When questioned, the lead investigator, Jeremy Feinburg, commented that ‘the discovery of a new frog species from the urban Northeast is truly remarkable and completes a journey that began six years ago with a simple frog call in the wilds of New York City… The synergy that traditional field methods and modern molecular and bioacoustic techniques can have when used together; one is really lost without the other, but together are very powerful tools.’

This, combined with the discovery of a new dolphin species in Australia (Sousa sahulensis, a member of the humpback dolphin family) is redefining what we know about urban wildlife. This shows us how many advances there are to make in the field of molecular ecology as we reassess what we knew about larger animals and the consequences these discoveries have on defining a species for conservation purposes.

References:
https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/wild-things/new-dolphin-species-gets-name
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0108213
http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/leopard-frog-149.html

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Siân Powell
When I started writing on this site my 'info' included that I wanted to study wildlife disease of molecular ecology. I can now say that I will be starting my PhD in September 2015 incorporating both of those areas to examine environmental reservoirs of bovine TB. So I suppose, to write my next goal, I want to write good papers, become a voice for wildlife and (hopefully) become a lecturer who excites their students.

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