AMPHIBIAWEB
Pseudophilautus stellatus
family: Rhacophoridae
subfamily: Rhacophorinae
Taxonomic Notes: Recently rediscovered and affirmed as a distinct taxon by Wickramasinghe and colleagues (Zootaxa 3620:112-128). Its status should be changed from Extinct to Critically Endandered.

© 2013 L. J. Mendis Wickramasinghe (1 of 2)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Critically Endangered (CR) - Provisional
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

   

Description
"Above bright green, with transverse darker bands, and irregularly spotted white. Limbs barred brown and spotted white. Beneath pinkish white. Body oval. Total length about 2 1/4 inches...This frog, too, changes its green colour into a purplish brown, the transverse bands become brown, but the white spots are always present." (Kelaart 1853).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Sri Lanka

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This species was found in Sri Lanka, at the type locality of Nuwara Eliya (Stuart et al. 2008).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Known only from the lost holotype. Pseudophilautus stellatus has not been recorded since its description (Kelaart 1853) despite extensive searches and is presumed extinct. It is believed to have been a direct developer, like other species in the genus Pseudophilautus (Stuart et al. 2008).

Trends and Threats
Habitat loss is likely to have been the major factor leading to the population decrease and eventual extinction of this species (Stuart et al 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Mining

Comments
This species was described as Polypedates stellata by Kelaart (1853), who diagnosed the genus as having large discs and incomplete webbing. Bossuyt anbd Dubois (2001) point out that the combination of characters places this species as a member of the current subfamily Rhacophorinae. No known Sri Lankan Polypedates is green, but some Sri Lankan Pseudophilautus and Kirtixalus are green or greenish (Bossuyt and Dubois 2001). The SVL of 57 mm described by Kelaart (1853) is larger than any known Sri Lankan Pseudophilautus, although several Sri Lankan Kirtixalus reach or exceed that size, leading Bossuyt and Dubois (2001) to propose that this species is actually a member of the genus Kirtixalus.

Bossuyt and Dubois (2001) also suggested that since many new Sri Lankan species of Kirtixalus remain to be described, the name Pseudophilautus stellatus should be used to describe another species from the Nuwara Eliya area, with characters matching those of Kelaart's (1853) description, and that a neotype be collected. Since the holotype cannot be found, Manamendra and Pethiyagoda (2005) have instead put forward that Pseudophilautus stellatus should be considered a valid, extinct species, and that another name be used for any similar species.

In 2013, L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe and colleagues announced its rediscovery nearly 160 years later; these striking individuals were found in inaccessible, high elevation cloud forests in the Peak Wilderness of Sripada World Heritage Site. Despite being found in a protected area, the area is suffering from forest dieback, expanding tea plantations, illegal mining and the expansion of invasive species, so it continued survival is not assured. The study recommends listing the species as "Critically Endangered" (Wickramasinghe et al 2013).

References
 

Bossuyt, F., and Dubois, A. (2001). ''A review of the frog genus Philautus Gistel, 1848 (Amphibia, Anura, Ranidae, Rhacophorinae).'' Zeylanica, 6, 1-112.  

Kelaart, E. F. (1853). Prodromus Faunae Zeylanicae: being Contributions to the Zoology of Ceylon. Self-published by E. F. Kelaart, Colombo.  

Manamendra-Arachchi, K., and Pethiyagoda, R. (2005). ''The Sri Lankan shrub-frogs of the genus Philautus Gistel, 1848 (Ranidae: Rhacophorinae), with description of 27 new species.'' Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 12, 163-303.  

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., and Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.  

Wickramasinghe, L. J. M., Vidanapathirana, D.R., Airyarathne, S., Rajeev, G., Chanaka, A., Pastorini, J., Chathuranga, G., And Wickramasinghe, N. (2013). ''Lost and found: One of the world's most elusive amphibians, Pseudophilautus stellatus (Kelaart 1853) rediscovered.'' Zootaxa, 3620(1), 112-128.



Written by Krystal Gong (mskgong AT sfsu.edu), SFSU
First submitted 2009-04-13
Edited by Updated by Michelle S. Koo, Kellie Whittaker (2013-03-08)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2014. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Nov 20, 2014).

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