Morphology, molecular genetics, and bioacoustics support two new sympatric Xenophrys toads (Amphibia: Anura: Megophryidae) in southeast China

PLoS One. 2014 Apr 8;9(4):e93075. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093075. eCollection 2014.


Given their recent worldwide declines and extinctions, characterization of species-level diversity is of critical importance for large-scale biodiversity assessments and conservation of amphibians. This task is made difficult by the existence of cryptic species complexes, species groups comprising closely related and morphologically analogous species. The combination of morphology, genetic, and bioacoustic analyses permits robust and accurate species identification. Using these methods, we discovered two undescribed Xenophrys species, namely Xenophrys lini sp. nov. and Xenophrys cheni sp. nov. from the middle range of Luoxiao Mountains, southeast China. These two new species can be reliably distinguished from other known congeners by morphological and morphometric differences, distinctness in male advertisement calls, and substantial genetic distances (>3.6%) based on the mitochondrial 16s and 12s rRNA genes. The two new species, together with X. jinggangensis, are sympatric in the middle range of Luoxiao Mountains but may be isolated altitudinally and ecologically. Our study provides a first step to help resolve previously unrecognized cryptic biodiversity and provides insights into the understanding of Xenophrys diversification in the mountain complexes of southeast China.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / anatomy & histology*
  • Anura / genetics*
  • Biodiversity
  • Female
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • Sound
  • Sympatry
  • Vocalization, Animal

Grants and funding

This work was partially supported by the Chinese National Science & Technology Basic Work Program, “The Comprehensive Scientific Survey of Biodiversity from Luoxiao Range Region in China (2013FY111500)” to Y.Y. Wang and the Hundred Talent Program (“Bai Ren Ji Hua”) from Sun Yat-sen University to Y. Liu. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.