Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New frog species at Shimoni

My question for the day: what do you do when you can't get in to the field to collect data...?

... you wait for the data to come to you.

Shimoni's coastal forest fall under one of 25 initially recognised Global Biodiversity Hotspots, as part of the Northern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic. Whilst our research focuses primarily on the charismatic Angolan Black and White (or Pied) Colobus we also aim to collect data on the diversity of both plant and animal species. And after nearly four years of collecting amphibian specimens in Tanzania, frogs have become a particular favourite of mine, for their remarkable range of shapes, sizes, colours and life histories designed to fill an equally remarkable array of ecological niches.

Not surprisingly, the wet season represents the best time of year for finding frogs, when these amphibious animals are at their most active, which our coastal forest research programme is missing out on this year. So I was very excited when the following frog hopped across my office floor a few evenings ago...

The size, webbing on the feet, expanded tips of the digits and horizontal oval pupils mark it out as a Hyperolius species, or one of the reed frogs; small climbing frogs with an incredible range of striking colour patterns. Unfortunately the taxonomy is very confusing for this group with scientists still trying to work out relationships between species and sub-species, but it would appear to be a different species to the Hyperolius we had recorded previously, pictured below: