Feinberg et al.

Researchers are issuing a "call to arms" to frog enthusiasts to find this critter in their cities, too.

Any "frog enthusiasts" worth their salt better listen hard: Researchers have discovered a new species flopping about on Staten Island, and they want your help in locating its buddies up and down the East Coast.

The hopper in question is the world's nineteenth identified species of leopard frog—spotted, moist-skinned creatures that enjoy eating "just about anything they can fit in their mouths," including each other. Carl Kauffeld, once the director of the Staten Island Zoo, postulated on the existence of this particular amphibian in 1937. But his theory was never accepted because the frog resembles a couple other species.

But a Rutgers team has finally validated poor ol' Kauffeld's prescient beliefs. They plucked a spotted frog from Staten Island and subjected it to rigorous tests, and its molecules and mating calls indeed signal a genetically unique class of animal. They named it Rana kauffeldi in honor of its discoverer. "We wanted to acknowledge his work and give credit where we believe it was due," says doctoral candidate Jeremy Feinberg, "even though it was nearly 80 years after the fact."

(Rutgers University)

That this animal has managed to fly under the radar for so long is incredible, the researchers say in a study in PLOS ONE:

This is one of the largest human population centers on earth and a region where endemic vertebrate species are rare. The long-term concealment and recent discovery of a novel anuran here is both surprising and biogeographically significant, and illustrates how new species can occur almost anywhere. It also raises potentially important conservation concerns: amphibians can be sensitive to disease, contaminants, and environmental perturbations, and their low vagility can be particularly problematic in fragmented and urban landscapes.

The frog is thought to live in a narrow, coastal band stretching from Connecticut to North Carolina, though perhaps not for much longer due to the pace of development and habitat loss. So Rutgers wants to investigate the its population health via crowdsourcing:

The news [of the frog], Feinberg said, became a call to arms to biologists, hobbyists and frog enthusiasts from Massachusetts to Virginia to go out, look, and listen in order to determine if the new frogmint-gray to light olive green with medium to dark spots—could be found beyond the New York metropolitan area.

Over the past two years, many frog lovers, including some involved with the North American Amphibian Monitoring Projecta government project that observes frog habitats to determine if populations are declininghave provided crucial information about where the frogs are living, what they look like, and how they sound. One volunteer, in fact, noticed the new species' unusual and distinct 'chuck' call, and provided information that ultimately helped confirm populations of the new species in both Virginia and North Carolina.

Aspiring spotters, head to NAAMP's site for instructions and even training in distinguishing the soul-lifting cries of amorous frogs.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

  2. A crowded street outside in Boston
    Life

    Surveillance Cameras Debunk the Bystander Effect

    A new study uses camera footage to track the frequency of bystander intervention in heated incidents in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England.                            

  3. Design

    A Hated Expansion of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Will Go Ahead

    The city council voted to approve an addition to the historic landmark over criticism that the design is “a travesty” and “frankly grotesque.”

  4. A migrant laborer rides a bicycle past a residential community in Shanghai.
    Equity

    When Affordable Housing in Shanghai Is a Bed in the Kitchen

    In this sector of the city’s informal housing rental market, as many as 24 people can be crammed into a three-bedroom apartment.

  5. Design

    A First-Rate Waterfront Park Is Transforming a Historic Greek City

    Thessaloniki’s New Waterfront is the centerpiece in an effort to transform the local economy, and other cities are taking notice.

×