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      Frogs of the genus Platypelis from the Sorata massif in northern Madagascar: description of a new species and reports of range extensions

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          Abstract

          We describe a new species of arboreal microhylid frog, genus Platypelis, from northeastern Madagascar and report the expansion of distribution ranges of two other species. Platypelis laetus sp. nov. is small to medium-sized (24.3–25.6 mm snout-vent length) compared to other Platypelis, exhibits a greenish colored throat and was found in bamboo forest of the Sorata Massif. Its advertisement call consists of a single short tonal note repeated at regular intervals in long call series. Based on DNA sequences of a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene, the new species was placed in a clade with Platypelis olgae from the Tsaratanana Massif, and with two other, unconfirmed candidate species from the Sorata Massif and from Andravory, herein named Platypelis sp. Ca12 and Ca13. Molecular divergences among these lineages were substantial, amounting to 7.6‒8.1% uncorrected 16S p-distance to the closest nominal species, P. olgae, from which the new species is also distinguished by a lack of allele sharing in the nuclear RAG-1 gene. We also provide new records of Platypelis alticola and P. tsaratananaensis from the Sorata Massif, supported by molecular analysis. This confirms a wider distribution of these two species that previously were considered to be endemic to the Tsaratanana Massif. However, their populations in Sorata were characterized by a certain degree of genetic differentiation from Tsaratanana populations suggesting they require more detailed taxonomic assessment.

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          Vast underestimation of Madagascar's biodiversity evidenced by an integrative amphibian inventory.

          Amphibians are in decline worldwide. However, their patterns of diversity, especially in the tropics, are not well understood, mainly because of incomplete information on taxonomy and distribution. We assess morphological, bioacoustic, and genetic variation of Madagascar's amphibians, one of the first near-complete taxon samplings from a biodiversity hotspot. Based on DNA sequences of 2,850 specimens sampled from over 170 localities, our analyses reveal an extreme proportion of amphibian diversity, projecting an almost 2-fold increase in species numbers from the currently described 244 species to a minimum of 373 and up to 465. This diversity is widespread geographically and across most major phylogenetic lineages except in a few previously well-studied genera, and is not restricted to morphologically cryptic clades. We classify the genealogical lineages in confirmed and unconfirmed candidate species or deeply divergent conspecific lineages based on concordance of genetic divergences with other characters. This integrative approach may be widely applicable to improve estimates of organismal diversity. Our results suggest that in Madagascar the spatial pattern of amphibian richness and endemism must be revisited, and current habitat destruction may be affecting more species than previously thought, in amphibians as well as in other animal groups. This case study suggests that worldwide tropical amphibian diversity is probably underestimated at an unprecedented level and stresses the need for integrated taxonomic surveys as a basis for prioritizing conservation efforts within biodiversity hotspots.
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            The use of bioacoustics in anuran taxonomy: theory, terminology, methods and recommendations for best practice.

            Vocalizations of anuran amphibians have received much attention in studies of behavioral ecology and physiology, but also provide informative characters for identifying and delimiting species. We here review the terminology and variation of frog calls from a perspective of integrative taxonomy, and provide hands-on protocols for recording, analyzing, comparing, interpreting and describing these sounds. Our focus is on advertisement calls, which serve as premating isolation mechanisms and, therefore, convey important taxonomic information. We provide recommendations for terminology of frog vocalizations, with call, note and pulse being the fundamental subunits to be used in descriptions and comparisons. However, due to the complexity and diversity of these signals, an unequivocal application of the terms call and note can be challenging. We therefore provide two coherent concepts that either follow a note-centered approach (defining uninterrupted units of sound as notes, and their entirety as call) or a call-centered approach (defining uninterrupted units as call whenever they are separated by long silent intervals) in terminology. Based on surveys of literature, we show that numerous call traits can be highly variable within and between individuals of one species. Despite idiosyncrasies of species and higher taxa, the duration of calls or notes, pulse rate within notes, and number of pulses per note appear to be more static within individuals and somewhat less affected by temperature. Therefore, these variables might often be preferable as taxonomic characters over call rate or note rate, which are heavily influenced by various factors. Dominant frequency is also comparatively static and only weakly affected by temperature, but depends strongly on body size. As with other taxonomic characters, strong call divergence is typically indicative of species-level differences, whereas call similarities of two populations are no evidence for them being conspecific. Taxonomic conclusions can especially be drawn when the general advertisement call structure of two candidate species is radically different and qualitative call differences are thus observed. On the other hand, quantitative differences in call traits might substantially vary within and among conspecific populations, and require careful evaluation and analysis. We provide guidelines for the taxonomic interpretation of advertisement call differences in sympatric and allopatric situations, and emphasize the need for an integrative use of multiple datasets (bio-acoustics, morphology, genetics), particularly for allopatric scenarios. We show that small-sized frogs often emit calls with frequency components in the ultrasound spectrum, although it is unlikely that these high frequencies are of biological relevance for the majority of them, and we illustrate that detection of upper harmonics depends also on recording distance because higher frequencies are attenuated more strongly. Bioacoustics remains a prime approach in integrative taxonomy of anurans if uncertainty due to possible intraspecific variation and technical artifacts is adequately considered and acknowledged.
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              The impact of anchored phylogenomics and taxon sampling on phylogenetic inference in narrow-mouthed frogs (Anura, Microhylidae)

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Zoosystematics and Evolution
                ZSE
                Pensoft Publishers
                1860-0743
                1435-1935
                June 05 2020
                June 05 2020
                : 96
                : 1
                : 263-274
                Article
                10.3897/zse.96.47088
                © 2020

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