Zoological Research ›› 2016, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (1): 7-14.doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.1.7

Special Issue: Amphibians & reptiles Genetics & evolution

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The Australasian frog family Ceratobatrachidae in China, Myanmar and Thailand: discovery of a new Himalayan forest frog clade

Fang YAN1,2, Ke JIANG1,2, Kai WANG1,3, Jie-Qiong JIN1, Chatmongkon SUWANNAPOOM4,1, Cheng LI5, Jens V. VINDUM6, Rafe M. BROWN7, Jing CHE1,2   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Yunnan 650223, China;
    2 Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yezin, Nay Pyi Taw 05282, Myanmar;
    3 Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman OK 73072-7029, U.S.A.;
    4 School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Phayao, Phayao 56000, Thailand;
    5 Imaging Biodiversity Expedition, Beijing 100107, China;
    6 Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, California 94118, U.S.A.;
    7 Biodiversity Institute and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS 66045, U.S.A.
  • Received:2015-10-27 Revised:2015-12-15 Online:2016-01-18 Published:2016-01-18
  • Contact: Jing CHE E-mail:chej@mail.kiz.ac.cn
  • Supported by:

    This study was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2014FY210200, 2011FY120200), the program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2015CASEABRI002), and the Animal Branch of the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species of Chinese Academy of Sciences (the Large Research Infrastructure Funding) to JC; RMB's work on the family Ceratobatrachidae has been supported by the U. S. National Science Foundation (DEB 073199, 0334952, 0743491, 1418895).

Abstract: In an effort to study the systematic affinities and specieslevel phylogenetic relationships of the enigmatic anurans variably assigned to the genera Ingerana or Limnonectes (family Dicroglossidae), we collected new molecular sequence data for five species including four Himalayan taxa, Limnonectes xizangensis, Lim. medogensis, Lim. alpine, Ingerana borealis and one southeast Asian species, I. tasanae, and analyzed these together with data from previous studies involving other ostensibly related taxa. Our surprising results demonstrate unequivocally that Lim. xizangensis, Lim. medogensis and Lim. alpine form a strongly supported clade, the sister-group of the family Australasian forest frog family Ceratobatrachidae. This discovery requires an expansion of the definition of Ceratobatrachidae and represents the first record of this family in China. These three species are distinguished from the species of Ingerana and Limnonectes by the: (1) absence of interdigital webbing of the foot, (2) absence of terminal discs on fingers and toes, (3) absence of circumarginal grooves on the fingers and toes, and (4) absence of tarsal folds. Given their phylogenetic and morphological distinctiveness, we assign them to the oldest available generic name for this clade, Liurana Dubois 1987, and transfer Liurana from Dicroglossidae to the family Ceratobatrachidae. In contrast, Ingerana tasanae was found to be clustered with strong support with the recently described genus Alcalus (Ceratobatrachidae), a small clade of otherwise Sundaic species; this constitutes a new record of the family Ceratobatrachidae for Myanmar and Thailand. Finally, Ingerana borealis clustered with the "true" Ingerana (family Dicroglossidae), for which the type species is I. tenasserimensis.