Stephen Mahony, Tshering Nidup, Jeffrey W. Streicher, Emma C. Teeling and Rachunliu G. Kamei
In: The Herpetological Journal. 32(3); 142-175. DOI: 10.33256/32.3.142175
adult male holotype (SCZM 2019.07.18.1) in life (A & B: images taken ex-situ) and immediately after euthanisation, prior to fixation (C–G): A. dorsolateral view; B. lateral view of head, red arrow shows the shoulder gland; C. dorsolateral view; D. ventral view; E. posterior view of thighs; F. palmar view of left hand; G. plantar view of left foot. Scale bars represent 10 mm.
adult male holotype (SCZM 2019.07.18.1) in life (images taken ex-situ) adult female paratype (SCZM 2019.07.18.2) in life (A & B)
juveniles in life (A–D) showing ontogenetic variation in colouration and markings: A & B. dorsolateral and profile views of a nearly metamorphosed juvenile (SCZM 2019.07.18.3), from the type locality, images taken ex-situ; C. dorsolateral view of larger juvenile (SCZM 2019.07.20.1), from Rongthong (27.2808, 91.53937, ca. 1,520 m a.s.l.), Trashigang District, Bhutan, image taken ex-situ; D. dorsal view of uncollected halfgrown juvenile, from Jere Chhu/Stream, Khaling Town, Bhutan, image taken in-situ; E. habitat at the type locality, Bodidrang Chhu/ Stream, taken from the Singye Thegchog Bridge two days after the collection of the holotype (20 July 2019); F. adult female paratype (SCZM 2019.08.02.1) from Bodidrang Chhu/Stream, image taken immediately after euthanisation, prior to fixation. Scale bar represents 10 mm.
The specific epithet is a patronym, named in recognition of Mr. Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal, a Forest Officer with the Department of Forest and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Government of Bhutan. Jigme is an accomplished Bhutanese herpetologist and has published many papers on the subject (Wangyal, 2011, 2013, 2014; Wangyal & Gurung, 2012, 2017; Wangyal & Das, 2014; Wangyal et al., 2020). Jigme’s extensive network of Forest Officers, researchers and wildlife enthusiasts have supplemented his extensive personal observations in several of his publications, and as a consequence, many of the species currently on Bhutan’s amphibian and reptile checklist were first documented in the country through his efforts. He continues to support and inspire interest in amphibian and reptile research through seminars and field training workshops and is a vocal proponent for improving standards of herpetological research in Bhutan.
Suggested common name: Wangyal’s torrent frog.
In summary, we identified four species of Amolops from Bhutan: (1) Amolops sp. 1. (viridimaculatus group: from Tshewang & Letro, 2018), (2) A. cf. gerbillus (marmoratus group), (3) A. cf. putaoensis (monticola group), and (4) A. wangyali sp. nov. (viridimaculatus group). Outside of the new species described herein, we were unable to determine species identities for these taxa given the available data. Until such time as vouchered specimens are clearly identified from the country by means of a detailed morphological comparison of vouchered specimens with relevant taxonomic literature, and/or with the aid of DNA sequence data, the following nine species must be formally removed from the amphibian checklist of Bhutan: (1) Amolops formosus, (2) A. gerbillus, (3) A. himalayanus (including A. aff. himalayanus), (4) A. mantzorum, (5) A. marmoratus, (6) A. monticola, (7) A. wenshanensis, (8) Sylvirana cf. guentheri, (9) Hyla annectans (including Hyla cf. annectans). Unintentional misidentifications in the literature can result in significantly overestimated/ erroneous geographic distributions for species, a situation which undermines conservation efforts. Inaccuracies in such assessments could even result in the redirection of conservation resources (funds and efforts) away from vulnerable range restricted species that require urgent attention. For these reasons, we encourage authors not to assign species names to taxa in publications if there is any uncertainty regarding the identification of the species. Many populations of amphibians reported from Bhutan (and elsewhere in Asia) are provided non-specific locality details (e.g. lack GPS coordinates, elevation details), are not represented in museum/university collections by vouchered specimens, and are often published without photographic evidence. Locally abundant species can often be dismissed as “common”, or of little scientific interest, and subsequently ignored by researchers; however, studies on Himalayan amphibians have demonstrated that “common” or widespread species occasionally represent complexes of morphologically similar species (e.g. Dubois, 1975; Kamei et al., 2009; Dever et al., 2012; Khatiwada et al., 2017; Mahony et al., 2013, 2018, 2020), so careful attention to document every species should be made when possible. Our review of Amolops reports in literature demonstrate that some taxonomic information can be obtained from good quality images of uncollected animals, but inevitably an accurate species inventory for Bhutan’s amphibian fauna will not be possible without permanently maintained reference collections of vouchered specimens. Range restricted species may be only one drought, forest fire or hydroelectric dam away from extinction, thus the urgency to catalogue the Himalayan biodiversity has never been more urgent.