Newly discovered frog one of 14 unique Hainan amphibians

By Nicki Johnson / HICN / Updated: 2021-04-03,12:51

On Mar.20, a newly discovered frog species, the Hainan Paddy Frog (Micryletta immaculata), measuring only 23 mm long, was officially confirmed as a species unique to Hainan. That means that there are now 43 recorded species of amphibians on the island! According to the Hainan Forestry Department, 14 of these amphibians can only be found here in Hainan, which shows the amazing biodiversity of this tropical Chinese province, as well as the importance of both conserving and studying the islands many natural wonders.

Lets take a look at Hainans 14 unique amphibians, one of which is listed as a National Class II Protected Species.

1. Hainan Knobby Newt (Tylototriton hainanensis)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Knobby Newt, a species of salamander, is found in central Hainans mountainous regions. Its the only amphibian unique to Hainan with a tail! This Newt can grow up to 15 cm. long and has a broad head. The tan or black skin of the back is covered in warty knobs, from which it gets its name. The Hainan Knobby Newt dwells in the lush evergreen forest belt between 600-1,700 meters above sea level, where it is generally found in well shaded locations under dead leaves or in root holes. After maturing, the Newt lives on land, subsisting on earthworms, slugs, and other small forest creatures. Status: Endangered

2. Hainan Pseudomoustache Toad (Leptobrachium hainanense)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Pseudomoustache Toad lives in the underbrush beside small streams at around 290-340 meters above sea level. The adult frogs conceal themselves in the damp environment under low shrubs and in piles of dead leaves. Their skin color is very similar to that of dead leaves, helping them blend in. They are found in Diaoluoshan in Lingshui, Wuzhishan in Qiongzhong, and Jianfengling in Ledong. Their most unusual feature is that the upper part of their eyes are blue. From a distance it looks like they are wearing blue eyeshadow! Status: Vulnerable

3. Hainan Pygmy Toad (Parapelophryne scalpta)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Pygmy Toad, the smallest toad in China, lives along small streams in evergreen forests at elevations of 350 - 1,400 meters above sea level. It is a National Class II protected species. Status: Vulnerable

4. Hainan Torrent Frog (Amolops hainanensis)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Torrent Frog makes its home in the rocks found in river rapids, or on the rock faces of waterfalls at an elevation of 800-850 meters above sea level in southwestern and central Hainan. During the day, the adult frog makes the perilous climb up the sheer cliff of the waterfall, where it hides in the cracks of rocks when alarmed. At night, it rests on the rocks or in the surrounding shrubbery. The mating season runs from April to August, and round clusters of eggs are pasted into the cracks of rocks in the waterfall. The tadpoles dwell under rocks in wide, open water where there is plenty of vegetation on the banks, large rocks in the water, and the current is strong. Status: Endangered

5. Little Torrent Frog (Amolops torrentis)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Little Torrent Frog measures only 28-33 millimeters in length for males, and 34-41 millimeters for females. They are active at night, and tend to live along large or medium sized mountain streams or on the rocks under waterfalls. They are found at 80 - 780 meters above sea level, in dark, moist areas with lush vegetation. Adult frogs make continuous loud, urgent sounding calls from their rocky perches during the day and leap into the water when alarmed, where they stay underwater for 3-5 minutes before resurfacing. Status: Vulnerable

6. Spiny Frog (Hylarana spinulosa)

(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The medium-sized Spiny Frog lives in or around streams at elevations of 80 - 650 meters above sea level where the vegetation is lush and damp. They can usually be found perching on rocks along the water or in the dead leaves and underbrush on the shore. The tadpoles like to hide under dead leaves in quiet pools of water or slow-moving streams. The Spiny Frog is found in Wenchang, Qionghai, Dongfang, Baoting, Yinggeling in Baisha, Diaoluoshan in Lingshui, Qiongzhong, & Wuzhishan, and Jianfengling in Ledong. Status: Vulnerable

7. Hainan Odorous Frog (Odorrana hainanensis)

 (Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Odorous Frog measures 49-62 millimeters long in males and 75-123 millimeters long in females. Thats a big size difference in sexes! They live at 200 - 780 meters above sea level in rocky, rapid forest streams that are generally 10-20 meters wide. Adults can often be found sitting on rocks along the stream or in a waterfall, or in the surrounding vegetation. When alarmed, they jump into the water, then immediately swim for shore. Why are they called odorous? I guess youll have to sniff one and find out for yourself! Status: Vulnerable

8. Hainan Music Frog (Nidirana hainanensis)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Music Frog dwells in tropical rainforest at an elevation of around 340 meters above sea level. Adult frogs can be found in the damp shrubbery alongside small streams or buried in wet dead leaves. Their low, musical, deep calls begin to reverberate through the rainforest at dusk. These frogs are agile, strong jumpers and are found in Diaoluoshan, Lingshui. Status: None

9. Fragile Wart Frog (Limnonectes fragilis)

(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The medium-sized Fragile Wart Frog dwells in the shallows of mountain streams at 290-900 meters above sea level. This agile frog is often active on or around rocks. With a powerful jumping ability, when disturbed they will immediately leap away, kicking up a spray of water with their strong back legs. Quick as the blink of an eye, the frog has disappeared into a rock crevice or hole. Status: Vulnerable

10. Red-headed Flying Frog (Buergeria oxycephala)

(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Red-headed Flying Frog, also known as the Hainan Stream Treefrog, mainly lives in large and medium sized streams between 80 - 500 meters above sea level. During the day, they conceal themselves on the large rocks in the water, where they blend in very well under the rays of the sun, making them incredibly difficult to spot. Is that one there? Nope, its just a rock. Wait! It jumped! Thats right, they are quick. When disturbed, they take a flying leap into the water. At night they move around on the waters edge or on the rocks in search of food. Status: Vulnerable

11. Hainan Small Treefrog (Liuixalus hainanus)

(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Hainan Small Treefrog lives in the underbrush and in bamboo forests at around 700 meters above sea level in Diaoluoshan, Lingshui. We dont know too much else about it yet, so if you see one, watch it closely and let us know what its like! Status: Vulnerable

12. Ocellated Bubble-nest Frog (Liuixalus ocellatus)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Ocellated Bubble-nest Frog has been observed in the rainforests and bamboo forests of Wuzhishan at altitudes between 320-1080 meters above sea level. It breeds by creating bubble nestsin rain-filled bamboo stems, where the larvae develop. These frogs are pretty tiny - adult males measure only around 18 millimeters long, and the females are only slightly bigger, averaging 19 millimeters. Status: Vulnerable

13. Yinggeling Treefrog (Zhangixalus yinggelingensis)


(Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

The Yinggeling Treefrog is not a super large frog, but the sound it makes sure is! The frogs resonant, continuous call sounds like a cow mooing. How odd to hear a cow deep in the rainforests of Hainan! This is not a cow though, its a color-shifting tree frog. During the day, the frog appears dark, jade green, but at night it looks much lighter in color. The Yinggeling Treefrog is found not only in Yinggeling, but also in Qiongzhong, Lingshui, and Baisha. It has also been recorded on Dioluoshan, Jianfengling, and Wuzhishan, where it lives amongst the plant roots and dead leaves or in caverns at altitudes between 770-950 meters above sea level. Status: Vulnerable

14. Hainan Paddy Frog (Micryletta immaculata)

 (Photo provided by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden)

Newly discovered Hainan Paddy Frogs measure between 23-25 millimeters long for males and 28-30 millimeters long for females. The bronze to reddish brown skin does not bear any brown spots or stripes, setting it apart from other similar frog species. Thats how it got the scientific name immaculata, which means immaculateor unblemished. It is found in the lush green rainforests of Exianling, Yinggeling, and Jianfengling. Listen closely. Is that the chirping of a cricket? No! Its the call of the Hainan Paddy Frog!

The Kandoorie Farm and Botanic Garden China Conservation research team published the news that they had discovered a new species, the tiny 23 millimeter long Hainan Paddy Frog, in the latest issue of the Journal of Zoological Research.

 Specimen photos of the newly discovered Hainan Paddy Frog (Photo: Researchers Yang Jianhuan and Poryakov)

 Specimen photos of the newly discovered Hainan Paddy Frog (Photo: Researchers Yang Jianhuan and Poryakov)

Actually the Hainan Paddy Frog was discovered in Yinggeling, Hainan as early as 2012, but at that time we thought it was the most widespread Paddy Frog, the Deli Paddy Frog,explained Yang Jianhuan, a member of the research team. After conducting research in more Hainan locations this year, they discovered that the Hainan species was actually quite different from the Deli Paddy Frog. With a combination of morphological and molecular biology evidence now in hand, Yang and his team were able to publish the evidence of a newly discovered species in Hainan - the Hainan Paddy Frog.

 The breeding habitat of the Hainan Paddy Frog: A -  small pool of water on a limestone rock at Exianling (the green circle shows a Hainan Paddy Frog making a mating call); B - A pool of water in the forest beneath the highest peak of Yinggeling (the green box shows a pair of mating Hainan Paddy Frogs) (Photo: Researchers Yang Jianhuan and Poryakov)

According to the research article, the Hainan Paddy Frog has now been found in Exianling, Jianfengling, Yinggeling, and the Jiaxi Nature Reserve. Although it doesnt have a large distribution, it has a fairly large range in elevation, having been observed in an abandoned paddy field nearby a mountain village at an elevation of 160 meters above sea level to a puddle in the forest at 1,470 meters above sea level. The frogs are easy to find only during the rainy season, when these frogs gather beside forest puddles or in abandoned rice paddies to breed, sending out their high-pitched, reedy calls. Outside of Hainans nature reserves, these frogs also live in suitable habitats at low elevations. However, researcher Yang Jianhuan believes that due to habitat loss and pollution, the Hainan Paddy Frog should be classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Natures Red List of Threatened Species.



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