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Type: Article
Published: 2023-04-05
Page range: 151-190
Abstract views: 1627
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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

Herpetology Department; South Australian Museum; North Terrace; Adelaide; South Australia 5000; Australia
Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security; Griffith University; 170 Kessels Rd; Brisbane; Queensland 4121; and Biodiversity and Geosciences Program; Queensland Museum; South Brisbane; Queensland; 4101 Australia
Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security
Amphibia arboreal breeding bird-dropping mimicry Central Cordillera frogs karst phylogeny phytotelm-breeding taxonomy


New Guinea has the most diverse insular frog fauna in the world, and rates of species discovery and description have increased rapidly in the last two decades. Pelodryadid treefrogs are the second most diverse family of anurans on the island but their taxonomy, relationships, and especially ecology remain poorly documented. Based on differences in morphology, advertisement calls (where available) and phylogenetic analyses of a 787 base pair alignment from the mitochondrial ND4 gene and flanking tRNA, we describe five new species of small treefrogs from hill and lower montane forests in the high rainfall belt that straddles the southern versant of Papua New Guinea’s Central Cordillera. Three of these species are known only from forest growing on karst substrates, adding to the growing number of herpetofauna species currently known only from the extensive karst habitats of Papua New Guinea’s South-fold Mountains. We also describe the arboreal breeding strategies of two of the new species, and report obligate treehole (phytotelm) breeding in New Guinean frogs for the first time. The new phytotelm–breeding species has juveniles with colour and patterning that closely resemble bird droppings, suggesting defensive mimicry or masquerade. A preliminary phylogeny suggests that arboreal-breeding frogs do not form a monophyletic group and that arboreal breeding has evolved multiple times within the New Guinean pelodryadid radiation. A further striking feature of the phylogeny is poor support for most basal nodes in the most diverse radiation of Melanesian Pelodryadidae, suggesting rapid ecological diversification and speciation, potentially following colonisation from Australia and/or mountain uplift. These new taxa and observations highlight previously unrecognised ecological and reproductive diversity in the Melanesian Pelodryadidae.



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  46. Appendix 1. Specimens examined for morphological comparisons.
  47. Litoria albolabris (Wandolleck, 1911). Papua New Guinea. Aitape, Sandaun Province. Syntype SAMA R4947.
  48. Litoria aplini Richards & Donnellan 2020. Papua New Guinea: West Sepik (Sandaun) Province, Upper Sepik River catchment, SAMA R71463 (holotype), SAMA R71464–5, PNGNM (FN SJR12834),
  49. Litoria auae Menzies & Tyler, 2004. Papua New Guinea: Gulf Province, Purari River, near McDowell Is, UP2490 (holotype), SAMA R57262–63 (paratypes).
  50. Litoria chloristona Menzies, Richards & Tyler, 2008. Papua New Guinea: National Capital District, Waigani, SAMA R9122a; Central Province, Brown River, SAMA R13251a–c; Gulf Province, Kopi, SAMA R63502–9 (all paratypes).
  51. Litoria chloronota (Boulenger, 1911) Indonesia: West Papua Province, Arfak Mountains, BM1947.2.31.20 (syntype), UP8380–8.
  52. Litoria contrastens (Tyler, 1968). Papua New Guinea: Eastern Highlands Province, Barabuna, SAMA R5845 (holotype), SAMA R6450 (paratype); Western Highlands Province, Noreikova, SAMA R5847 (5 specimens).
  53. Litoria elkeae Günther & Richards, 2000. Indonesia: Papua Province, Siewa River, MZB Amph.3866–9, QMJ70490–2 (all paratypes).
  54. Litoria eurynastes Menzies, Richards & Tyler, 2008. Indonesia: Papua Province, Siewa River, MZB Amph.14651–5; Papua New Guinea: Manus Province, Lorengau, SAMA R63497–501 (all paratypes).
  55. Litoria havina Menzies, 1993. Papua New Guinea: Western Province, Ok Kam, UP7281 (holotype); Western Province, Ok Ma, UP 8406–7 (paratypes); Western Province, Ok Kam, SAMA R38596–7; Southern Highlands Province, Agogo Range, SAMA R60173–7.
  56. Litoria iris (Tyler, 1962). Papua New Guinea: Chimbu Province, Bamna, BM 1961.1226 (holotype); Southern Highlands Province, Tari, UP3115–35; Eastern Highlands Province, Ubaigubi, UP8289–90; Enga Province, Porgera, UP 7148–67, Lake Tawa, SAMA R71599; Sandaun Province, Telefomin, SAMA R5423, R5874; Hela Province, Gigira Ridge, SAMA R71598.
  57. Litoria kumae Menzies & Tyler, 2004. Papua New Guinea: Southern Highlands Province, Tari, UP3108 (holotype), SAMA R52760–61 (paratypes).
  58. Litoria leucova (Tyler, 1968). Papua New Guinea: Sandaun Province, Mt Stolle, SAMA R44091–2, UP8604–6, upper Sepik River basin.
  59. Litoria lodesdema Menzies, Richards & Tyler, 2008. Papua New Guinea: East New Britain Province, Kerevat, SAMAR7046–47, R7049, R7055–56, R7058–59, R8439a,b.
  60. Litoria longicrus (Boulenger, 1911). Indonesia: Papua Province, Wendessi, BM 1947.2.22.60–61 (syntypes).
  61. Litoria majikthise Johnston & Richards, 1994. Papua New Guinea: Western Province, Tabubil, SAMA R44093 (holotype), UP6734, 7305–9, 8501–8, 8602–3, SAMA R44094–44101 (all paratypes).
  62. Litoria mucro Menzies, 1993. Papua New Guinea: East Sepik Province, Near Rauit Village, UP2741–3, 2745–56 (paratypes).
  63. Litoria mystax (van Kampen, 1906). Indonesia: Papua Province, Moaif, RMNH 4632 (holotype).
  64. Litoria nigropunctata (Meyer, 1875). Indonesia: Papua Province, Yapen Island, Mount Waira, ZMB 63977, Yapen Island near Konti, SAMA R61799.
  65. Litoria ollauro Menzies, 1993. Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay Province, Agaun, UP4644 (holotype), UP4634–43, 4645–51, 5070–89 (paratypes).
  66. Litoria richardsi Dennis & Cunningham, 2006. Papua New Guinea: Western Province, Tabubil, SAMA R60283 (holotype); Upper Fly River, SAMA R71602–5; Indonesia: Papua Province, Tiri River, Mamberamo Drainage, MZB Amph.11823 (paratype).
  67. Litoria robinsonae Oliver, Stuart-Fox & Richards, 2008. Papua New Guinea: Gulf Province, Ivimka, Lakekamu Basin, SAMA R55527 (holotype), R55528–9 (paratypes).
  68. Litoria singadanae Richards, 2005. Papua New Guinea: Morobe Province, Ridge above Surim Camp, eastern Finisterre Mountains, SAMA R60172 (holotype), UP 9968, SAMA R60171 (paratypes).
  69. Litoria verae Günther, 2004. Indonesia: Border of Papua and West Papua Provinces, Wondiwoi Mountains, ZMB 62384.
  70. Litoria viranula Menzies, Richards & Tyler, 2008. Papua New Guinea: Western Province, Bensbach River, SAMA R63487 (holotype), Wegamu, SAMA R63486–92 (paratypes); Indonesia: Papua Province, Merauke, SAMA R13666a–c, R13667a–d.
  71. Litoria vivissimia Oliver, Richards & Donnellan, 2019. Papua New Guinea, Hela province, Gigira Ridge, SAMA RR71127 (holotype).
  72. Litoria wapogaensis Richards & Iskandar, 2001 Indonesia: Papua Province, Wapoga River, MZB Amph.3873 (holotype), MZB Amph.3874–76, SAMA R54595–98 (paratypes).