Distribution and habitat associations of the Critically Endangered frog Walkerana phrynoderma (Anura: Ranixalidae), with an assessment of potential threats, abundance, and morphology

Arun Kanagavel, Sethu Parvathy, Abhiijth P. Chundakatil, Neelesh Dahanukar, Benjamin Tapley
2018 Phyllomedusa: Journal of Herpetology  
Distribution and habitat associations of the Critically Endangered frog Walkerana phrynoderma (Anura: Ranixalidae), with an assessment of potential threats, abundance, and morphology. Little is known about Walkerana phrynoderma, a frog endemic to the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats of India. Baseline information (i.e., distribution, threats, habitat characteristics, activity patterns, and relative abundance) is provided for this species, with the aim of improving our understanding of the
more » ... rstanding of the status of the species in the wild. Visual-encounter, transect, and time-activity budget surveys were conducted in and around the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats. The frog skin was swabbed to determine the presence/absence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and habitat and environmental characteristics were recorded at sites where W. phrynoderma was found. These data were compared with those of sites apparently lacking this species that had suitable habitat. Walkerana phrynoderma is restricted to evergreen forests between 1300 and 1700 m a.s.l. in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve and at Munnar; thus, its range was extended from the state of Tamil Nadu to the adjoining state of Kerala. Pesticide runoff and human disturbance are the most severe threats to the species; B. dendrobatidis was not detected. This nocturnal anuran prefers forest edges and is associated with well-shaded forest foors in cool areas near freshwater streams. Walkerana phrynoderma is rarely encountered whereas its congener, W. leptodactyla, is more common. The impact of anthropogenic disturbances, especially waste disposal and development of tourism infrastructure, should be evaluated. The land that is owned by the Forest Department peripheral to the protected areas could be designated as eco-sensitive sites to prevent changes in land use that could have an adverse effect on W. phrynoderma.
doi:10.11606/issn.2316-9079.v17i1p21-37 fatcat:2gml4gto35agjfkadxjw2ikrj4