Description, biology and conservation of a new species of Australian tree frog (Amphibia : Anura : Hylidae : Litoria) and an assessment of the remaining populations of Litoria genimaculata Horst, 1883: systematic and conservation implications of an unusua

Abstract

The Australian populations of the green-eyed tree frog Litoria genimaculata consist of a northern and southern genetic lineage that meet in a mosaic contact zone comprising two independent areas of contact: one where the main ranges of the lineages overlap, and the second where a population of the southern lineage is isolated within the range of the northern lineage. A recent study failed to find significant reproductive isolation between the main ranges of the two lineages, despite deep genetic divergence, partial postzygotic isolation, and call differences. The study did, however, demonstrate rapid phenotypic divergence and speciation of the isolated population of the southern lineage from both the parapatric northern lineage and from the allopatric, but genetically similar, main range of the southern lineage. Herein, the isolated population of the southern lineage is described as a distinct species, Litoria myola sp. nov., whereas the remainder of the southern lineage and the northern lineage are retained as a single, paraphyletic species, Litoria genimaculata. Resolving this unusual systematic situation demonstrates the value of using multiple lines of evidence in delimiting species. Litoria myola sp. nov. has a very small distribution and population size and warrants a Critically Endangered listing (B1, 2) under IUCN criteria. Threats and management recommendations are outlined, and the conservation of hybrid zones as areas of evolutionary novelty is discussed. (C) 2007 The Linnean Society of London

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