Seven new species of miniature frogs have been found in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil, ranging on as many as seven mountaintops.
The Atlantic Rainforest is renowned for its luxurious vegetation and fauna. So luxurious even that some species sheltering in this range are still undiscovered by scientists. Such is the case of the tiny frogs, measuring less than one centimeter in length.
While their specific singing could be heard on wide ranges, their discovery has proven particularly hard due to their almost unnoticeable size and fast hiding.
These new species belong to the Brachycephalus genus. Features of this genus include small sizes and brightly coloured displays.
Their beauty and specific characteristics however, do not prevent the little amphibians from being at risk of extinction. Most of the Brachycephalus are inhabiting very restricted areas, with most species in the genus being found only on one mountain top of the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil.
This is the case for the newly discovered species as well. The issue is that the species live in utter isolation, forming the so called “sky islands”. Unable to cross from mountaintop to mountaintop due to the valleys that are environmentally unfit for the little amphibians, they remain restricted to one, at most two mountaintops.
These were particularly the reasons why Marcio Pie from the Universidade Federal do Parana, Brazil and his team ventured on the mountaintops in hopes to unravel undiscovered species.
Their fieldwork extended from Parana to Santa Catarina and yielded the much expected results. Seven new species of miniature frogs to be included in the Brachycephalus genus.
What makes these miniature frogs so special is their skin texture and brightly coloured display. They are also quite poor at jumping and measure less than one centimeter in length.
The first species of the Brachycephalus genus was recorded in 1824. However, the majority of species included in the genus were only revealed in the past 15 years. The most recent discovery of the seven miniature frog species raises hopes that the discoveries are only now picking up the pace.
However, no discoveries are on the horizon for the researchers unless the habitats of these species are duly protected. They are geographically restricted and therefore much more vulnerable to total extinction.
To this extent, Marcio Pie and his team partnered up with relevant actors in the field of environmental protection in order to create natural reserves in this region.
If their efforts prove efficient, it would entail a resounding success in terms of protection the vulnerable cloud forests in the face of climate change, deforestation, land use for ranching. And with saving the habitat, comes saving the little fellows as well.
Image Source: ibtimes.co.uk