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5 New Papua New Guinea Treefrog Species Described

The five described species are Litoria daraiensis, Litoria gracilis, Litoria haematogaster, Litoria lisae and Litoria naispela.

The five described species are Litoria daraiensis, Litoria gracilis, Litoria haematogaster, Litoria lisae and Litoria naispela.

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Researchers from the Queensland Museum, South Australian Museum and Griffith University have described five species of Papua New Guinea treefrogs. One notable feature of these frogs is all lay eggs out of the water rather than in the water, which the scientists say is more typical of treefrog species.

“Tadpoles of one new species, Litoria naispela actually live in water collected in tree hollows, a behaviour not previously documented in frogs from New Guinea,” Oliver said in a press release put out by the university. “Litoria naispela also has juveniles that have colour and patterning that closely resembles bird droppings – we think this is a form of defensive masquerade.”

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Papua New Guinea treefrog

One notable feature of these frogs is all lay eggs out of the water rather than in the water

The five described species are Litoria daraiensis, Litoria gracilis, Litoria haematogaster, Litoria lisae and Litoria naispela. They are all known to exist along the central mountain range of New Guinea, living in wet mountain forest areas.

Litoria naispela

Litoria naispela adult. Photo by Steve Richards

The five frogs were collected over the last 30 years by Dr. Richard Stevens, a South Australian Museum honorary researcher.
“I spent a huge amount of time waiting at night beside tree holes in rain, hail and (moon)shine, for frogs to emerge in order to find these amazing species, and to try and learn about their biology,” Richards said. “New Guinea has more species of frogs than any other island in the world and most are found nowhere else. New discoveries like this show that this richness of species is also matched by a diverse set of ways to make a living as frog!”

Litoria naispela

Litoria naispela froglet. Photo by Steve Richards

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An abstract of the paper, Five new species of the pelodryadid genus Litoria Tschudi from the southern versant of Papua New Guinea’s Central Cordillera, with observations on the diversification of reproductive strategies in Melanesian treefrogs,” can be read on the Zootaxa website.

From the media release:

Litoria daraiensis, sp. nov. Darai Plateau Treefrog

Etymology. The name daraiensis refers to the type and only known locality of this species, the Darai Plateau in Southern Papua New Guinea.
Distinguishing features: This frog is a pale, green-tinged ivory with green spots and flecks across its back. Its hands and feet are translucent, with dense brown spotting and small patches of green.
Where is it found: is currently known from a single location on the Darai Plateau in Gulf Province, southern Papua New Guinea.

Litoria gracilis, sp. nov. Slender Spotted Treefrog

Etymology. Gracilis is a Latin adjective meaning slender, graceful, or gracile, and refers to the slender body form of this species.
Distinguishing features: This is a pale, creamy brown frog with small green spots and small patches of darker brown and a bright, yellow groin.
Where is it found: is known from several sites across the southern foothills of Papua New Guinea’s Central Cordillera between the upper Strickland River basin in the west and the upper Kikori River basin in the east.

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Litoria lisae, sp. nov. Lisa’s Treefrog

Etymology. The name lisae is an honorific for the senior author’s wife, Lisa Capon, in gratitude for her ongoing support of his research activities.
Distinguishing features: a lime green fog with yellow and scattered darker green spots. It has a white mid-lateral stripe that runs from midway between the front and hind limbs to the groin and a pale-brown band around the edges of the throat.
Where is it found: is known from lower montane forest on Gobe Ridge and Iagifu Ridge (including Arakubi) in the Kikori River basin of southern Papua New Guinea, where they appear to be restricted to limestone karst habitats.

Litoria naispela, sp. nov. Crater Mountain Treehole Frog

Etymology. The word naispela is from the Melanesian pidgin meaning ‘pretty’, ‘beautiful’.
Distinguishing features: a pale lime green frog with dark-green spots and small areas of cyan white. Dark green pigment patches on dorsum form large ‘Y’-shaped patch between eyes, round patch on one eyelid, and short irregular bars on hindlimbs.
Where is it found: is known only from the vicinity of Herowana Village in Eastern Highland Province, on the southern slopes of Papua New Guinea’s Central Cordillera. The habitat where the species was encountered is moderately disturbed lower montane rainforest, although large areas around the village had been converted to gardens and coffee plantations.