Mixophyes is a genus of large ground-dwelling frogs from eastern Australia and New Guinea.
They are commonly known as barred river frogs or barred frogs due to the distinctive dark cross-bars on their arms and legs, and their association with flowing streams.
“At present, Mixophyes comprises seven species from eastern Australia and a single southern New Guinean species,” said University of Newcastle’s Professor Michael Mahony and colleagues.
“Several species of Mixophyes occur across well-known biogeographic boundaries in eastern Australia and are therefore candidates to be cryptic species complexes or may show deep phylogeographic divergence as has been demonstrated in other Australian amphibians with similar distributions.”
Named Mixophyes australis (common named is the southern stuttering frog), the newly-discovered species is a cousin of the previously known species Mixophyes balbus.
These frogs have a striking resemblance and very similar mating call likened to a stutter. However, genome testing revealed they are two distinct species.
Mixophyes australis grows up to 7.5 cm in length and has large eyes, golden above with a blue crescent.
Its back is a rich coppery-bronze color with darker barring on the legs.
Mixophyes australis is distributed from the Carrai Plateau on the southern side of the Macleay River in New South Wales south to the Cann River catchment in East Gippsland Victoria.
All records were from wet forest habitats in drainages that flow to the east of the Great Dividing Range.
“While it is exciting that a new species of frog has been identified, it is challenging to address the conservation of this frog because it has disappearances from over two thirds of its distribution,” Professor Mahony said.
“By applying the international conservation threat assessment methods, we found that Mixophyes australis warrants listing as Endangered.”
The discovery of Mixophyes australis is reported in a paper published this month in the journal Zootaxa.
Michael J. Mahony et al. A new species of barred frog, Mixophyes (Anura: Myobatrachidae) from south-eastern Australia identified by molecular genetic analyses. Zootaxa 5297 (3): 301-336; doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.5297.3.1
This article by Natali Anderson was first published by Sci.News on 6 June 2023. Lead Image: The southern stuttering frog (Mixophyes australis) at Sharpes Creek, Gloucester Top NP, Australia. Image credit: Ross Knowles.
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