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New leopard frog species discovered in New York

Leopard frog species identified by sound, genetic analysis



IMAGE: Photo of the new male leopard frog species, named Rana kauffeldi. view more

Credit: Feinberg et al.

Scientists discover a new species of leopard frog from New York City and surrounding region, according to a study published October 29, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jeremy Feinberg from Rutgers University and colleagues.

The frog species was discovered in the New York City metropolitan area and surrounding coastal regions, one of the largest and most densely populated urban parts of the world. Among other data, scientists analyzed acoustic and genetic data to characterize the new species of leopard frog, named Rana kauffeldi.

The species inhabits parts of New York City, where it was first identified, but its range also extends to the north and south and follows a narrow and largely coastal lowland distribution from central Connecticut to northeastern North Carolina. The researchers suggest the new species typically occurs in open-canopied wetlands interspersed with upland patches, but centuries of habitat loss may threaten the species. The authors suggest that this discovery demonstrates that new vertebrate species can still be found periodically even in well-studied areas rarely associated with undocumented biodiversity.

Jeremy Feinberg added: "The discovery of a new frog species from the urban Northeast is truly remarkable and completes a journey that began six years ago with a simple frog call in the wilds of New York City. This story underscores the synergy that traditional field methods and modern molecular and bioacoustic techniques can have when used together; one is really lost without the other, but together are very powerful tools."


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Citation: Feinberg JA, Newman CE, Watkins-Colwell GJ, Schlesinger MD, Zarate B, et al. (2014) Cryptic Diversity in Metropolis: Confirmation of a New Leopard Frog Species (Anura: Ranidae) from New York City and Surrounding Atlantic Coast Regions. PLoS ONE 9(10): e108213. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108213

Funding: Financial support for field work and analysis was primarily provided by a Rutgers Graduate School of New Brunswick Bevier Dissertation Fellowship and a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Conserve Wildlife Matching Grant to JAF, an NIH NIEHS Center grant P30ES005022 to JB, and a Hudson River Foundation grant to JB and JAF. Partial support was also provided by the Rutgers Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Foundation for Ecological Research in the Northeast, and the Tiko Fund. Funding for genetics laboratory work for the holotype, performed at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, was provided by NSF DEB-1146033 (to Christopher C. Austin). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist.

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