New Platymantis from Luzon Island


Frogs in the genus Platymantis are extraordinarily diverse in the Philippine Archipelago, and new lineages within it are being discovered frequently. Species within Philippine Platymantis vary in appearance, calls, and preferred habitat. One form of Platymantis recorded during field surveys in Biak Na Bato National Park, assigned the name P. biak, had features of tree-dwelling frogs but appeared restricted to ground habitats. P. biak is the first karst-associated species to be described from Luzon, though a number of others may exist on the island.

This species was assigned to Platymantis based on physical traits, reproductive mode, and terrestrial habitat preference. The description of P. biak increases the number of recognized Philippine Platymantis species to 29.

This species has smooth skin with blotches of green, brown, and black colors on the head and back and marbled light cream with tan speckles on the throat and chest. Individuals were found camouflaged against limestone and were often difficult to find and catch. Males were more easily captured, as their calling behavior made them more conspicuous.

There has been a recent increase in the number of field surveys across the Philippines. This increase combined with detailed analyses of Platymantis behavior, appearance, habitat and genetics leads us to believe that species diversity in the genus will double after completion of the ongoing research in the area. In general, reptile and amphibian diversity in the Philippines continues to be underestimated.

Due to harmful human activities, karst ecosystems are among the most heavily degraded area’s habitats. With so much potential for yet unrecognized species diversity in these areas, government legislation dictating conservation of this habitat is warranted. Additional extensive surveys need to be conducted in order to properly assess the conservation needs of life in the Philippines.

–Tucker Walton

Siler, C.D., A.C. Diesmos, C.W. Linkem, M.L. Diesmos, and R.M. Brown. 2010. A new species of limestone-forest frog, genus Platymantis (Amphibia: Anura: Ceratobatrachidae) from central Luzon Island, Philippines. Zootaxa 2482: 49–63. pdf