Tree frogs are adorable, so let’s have some more: In a study published in open-access journal ZooKeys, researchers describe a new species called Boophis ankarafensis. Unfortunately, it's in danger of losing its habitat.
Green with red speckles, the species looks quite similar to its closest relatives in the habitat – the banks of two streams in the Ankarafa Forest of Madagascar. But in addition to a large genetic divergence (one of more than 4.9 percent, based on analyzed gene fragments) the little frogs have one big distinction: Their call.
Vocal signaling is very important in the froggy world. Males use special calls to attract mates, and every species is a little (or a lot) different from its neighbors. In the case of Boophis ankarafensis, it was the a missing “click” that got researchers’ attention.
The very similar Boophis bottae uses trill notes and click notes in its call, just like Boophis ankarafensis. But intense analysis of recordings revealed that B. ankarafensis trills at a faster rate, and when it “clicks,” the notes come in pulses of two. Boophis bottae tends to click in pulses of three. These minute differences help one Boophis distinguish itself from another.
Unfortunately, the species doesn’t seem to be very widespread, and is most likely vulnerable to deforestation in the area. Even though these forests are in a protected national park, the authors wrote in their study, destruction of the stream-side flora poses a huge problem to the little frogs. For that reason, the authors are recommending that this newly discovered species be put straight on the Critically Endangered list for its protection.