Wednesday, May 06, 2009

200 new frog species from Madagascar

Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world, boasts unique wildlife and an amazing degree of biodiversity. One expert commented that he thought they'd identified most of the frogs, at least. Wrong - way wrong. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests between 129 and 221 new species have been identified. This almost doubles the currently known amphibian fauna.
From the Abstract:
"Based on DNA sequences of 2,850 specimens sampled from over 170 localities, our analyses reveal an extreme proportion of amphibian diversity, projecting an almost 2-fold increase in species numbers from the currently described 244 species to a minimum of 373 and up to 465."
COMMENT: This has major implications worldwide - if the count for Madagascar was that far off, what about Southeast Asia? Central America? The indonesian archipelago? Herpetologists may be sorting this out for a long time.

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