AmphibiaWeb - Amolops putaoensis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Amolops putaoensis Gan, Qin, Lwin, Li, Quan, Liu & Yu, 2020
Putao Cascade Frog (English), 葡萄湍蛙 (Chinese)
family: Ranidae
genus: Amolops
Species Description: Gan Y-L, T Qin, YH Lwin, G-G Li, R-C Quan, S Liu, and G-h Yu. 2020. A new species of Amolops (Anura: Ranidae) from northern Myanmar. Zoological Research (Kunming) 41: 733-739

AmphibiaChina logo AmphibiaChina 中国两栖类.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Amolops putaoensis is a frog that is a member of the Amolops monticola species group (Gan et al. 2020; Zhang et al. 2022). Only three male specimens were used for the species description, which ranged in snout-vent length from 37.6 - 40.2 mm, from northern Myanmar (Gan et al. 2020). However, ten subsequent male specimens from Gongshan County, China, near the Tibet border were found with a snout-vent length range of 47.5 - 51.2 mm (Zhang et al. 2022). The head is slightly wider than long. From the profile the snout is rounded and from the ventral view it is obtusely pointed and projects beyond the the lower jaw. The oval nostrils are slightly protuberant and located closer to the snout tip than they eye. The distinct canthus rostralis is straight, and the concave loreal region is sloping. The interorbital distance is less than the internarial distance but about equal to the upper eyelid width. The pupil is horizontal and oval. The distinct tympanum is rounded and about half the diameter of the eye. There is an indistinct supratympanic fold. The forelimbs are robust. Two oval metacarpal tubercles are present on the palms. The unwebbed fingers have a relative length of I< II < IV < III, and the tips expand into discs with transverse and circummarginal grooves. Prominent and rounded subarticular tubercles are found in the formula of 1, 1, 2, 2, but there are no supernumerary tubercles. A velvety nuptial pad is present on the first finger. The hind limbs are long; the heels overlap when the legs are held at right angles to the body and the tibiotarsal articulation extends beyond the snout tip. The tibia is longer than either the thigh or the foot. The prominent inner metatarsal tubercle is oval and there is no outer metatarsal tubercle. There is a dermal fringe on the side of toes I and V. The relative toe lengths are I < II < III < V < IV, and the tips expand into discs with transverse and circummarginate grooves that are slightly narrower than the discs on the outer fingers. The toes have well developed webbing with a formula of I 1 - 1.5 II 1 - 2 III 1 - 2 IV 2 - 1 V. There are no supernumerary tubercles on the planter but the fingers have subarticular tubercles with a formula of 1, 1, 2, 3, 2. The body has distinct dorsolateral folds that start just posterior of the eye and extend to the vent. The skin has some small warts in the posterior of the dorsum but is otherwise smooth on all other surfaces. There are also two rictal glands that are continuous with the upper lip. There is no humeral gland (Gan et al. 2020).

The A. monticola clade is characterized by smooth skin, a light-colored upper lip stripe contrasted against a dark head, and dorsolateral folds. Morphological characteristics that distinguish A. putaoensis from similar species in the clade include the presence of vomerine teeth (absent in A. daorum) and the tibiotarsa articulationl extending beyond its snout tip (A. chakrataensis reaches the tympanum or behind the eye; A. chunganen and A. mengyangensis can reach the end of their snout). Male A. putaoensis may have two internal vocal sacs present (these are external in A. akhaorum, A. cucae, A. compotrix, A. iriodes, A. mengdingensis, A. tuanjieensis, A. vitreus, and A. wenshanensis). There is no webbing between its fingers (rudimentary webbing in A. gerbillus) and it has a brown dorsal surface (dorsal surface is green in A. chayuensis) (Gan et al. 2020). Amolops putaoensis has distinct transverse bands on the dorsal surfaces of its forelimbs and hind limbs, while its close relative A. aniqiaoensis either lacks or has indistinct bands on its limbs. Amolops putaoensis can also be distinguished from A. aniqiaoensis by the lack of two dark lines in a “/ ” shape on its chest and its smaller body size (37.6 - 40.2 mm vs. 52 mm in snout-vent length). Two other relatives, A. kohimaensis and A. archotaphus, do not have dorsolateral folds, while they are distinct in A. putaoensis. Amolops putaoensis is also the only species in the A. monticola group to not have an outer metatarsal tubercle and to have circummarginal groves on Finger I (Zhang et al. 2022).

Live specimens have a bronze-colored upper body with black reticulations, while the lower ¾ of the body is dark. The warts on the posterior dorsum are white. They have a brown head and dorsum with dark spots, black sides of the head, and a white upper lip stripe that extends to the axilla. The flanks are green with sparsely-distributed dark spots. They have a grayish to gray-brown throat and a dirty white chest and venter, scattered with dark spots. The anterior and posterior sides of the thighs are yellow and the groin is orange. In preservative (75% ethanol), the dorsal surface became gray-brown. The throat, abdomen, and ventral surface became white with scattered brown spots (Gan et al. 2020).

Amolops putaoensis was described from three male specimens from Putao County, Kachin State, Myanmar in 2020. However, in 2022, ten more male specimens were found in Gongshan County, China, near the Tibet border. The Gongshan population is larger than the Putao population, with male snout-vent lengths of 47.5 - 51.2 mm compared to 37.6 - 40.2 mm, respectively. For the Gongshan population, the live specimens had a brown dorsum with black irregular spotting, lemon yellow to olive green laterals surfaces, a venter that is grayish-white, and irregular spotting from throat to chest. They also lack tarsal and skin folds. In 75% ethanol preservative, the dorsal coloration is a dark blush-green with a yellow vent, which contrasts with the lighter coloration of the Putao specimens. The researchers also noted that the Gongshan populations exhibited a pair of external subgular vocal sacs, similar to some of its relatives, instead of being internal in the Putao population. They suggest that because the Putao type series may not have been calling when collection occurred, and Gan et al. (2020) may have overlooked the external property of the vocal sacs (Zhang et al. 2022).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: China, Myanmar

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Amolops putaoensis was initially found in the Putao Township of northern Myanmar, making it the only member of the A. monticola species group to reside in the Kachin region. The holotype of A. putaoensis was found towards the upper part of Mali Hka, near a fast-moving rocky mountain stream at 544 m a.s.l. The two male paratypes used in the original study were found at 940 m and 1098 m a.s.l. (Gan et al. 2020).

While it was believed that A. putaoensis was endemic to its type locality, Zhang et al. (2022) found morphologically and molecularly similar individuals in Gongshan County of Yunnan Province in southwestern China, which borders northern Myanmar. The specimens were collected in a shallow part of the Dulong River system, which had a sandy bed and rocky banks. This discovery extends the known range of A. putaoensis by 133.7 kilometers. The researchers collected the Gongshan A. putaoensis individuals at 1218 m a.s.l.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
All specimens used to describe A. putaoensis were collected near streams of varying velocities. The Putao A. putaoensis were found on a withered tree near a fast-moving mountain stream with a rocky constitution (Gan et al. 2020), while the Gongshan A. putaoensis were collected in a shallow, slow-moving stream with a sandy riverbed (Zhang et al. 2022). Due to inhabiting both terrestrial and aquatic parts of the landscape, they are presumed to be a semi-aquatic species. To date, they have not been found to inhabit lentic systems. All of the A. putaoensis individuals associated themselves with relatively high elevations.

Besides the immediate habitat in which the specimens were found, there is little information on the life history of this species. None of the specimens, when caught, exhibited any indication of calling, and the type of amplexus and reproductive mode is unclear because female and larval individuals of A. putaoensis are unknown (Gan et al. 2020; Zhang et al. 2022). However, the holotype and paratypes were collected in December (Gan et al. 2020) and the Gongshan specimens were collected in July (Zhang et al. 2022), which may indicate that the mating season is in either early spring or early autumn as no females or tadpoles were found at these times.

Trends and Threats
It is not certain whether the population of A. putaoensis is stable or declining. This may be due to the lack of research done on fauna and herpetofauna in Asia over the past half-century (Gan et al. 2020). Although there is a lack of literature on the species, biodiversity in the Far Eastern Himalayas faces a multitude of threats due to factors ranging from human activity to climate change (Banset et al. 2019). Additionally, A. putaoensis has not been found in protected areas. The collected specimens were found near human settlements, namely Dulongjiang Village in China, and Putao County in Myanmar (Gan et al. 2020; Zhang et al. 2022).

Bayesian inference of 16S, COI, and ND2 mtDNA was used to conclude that Amolopus putaoensis belongs to the genus and is a member of the A. monticola group. This data also found that A. putaoensis is sister to A. aniqiaoensi (Gan et al. 2020). Further morphological and Bayesian inference, also looking at the COI gene, was used to conclude that A. putaoensis is sister to the clade containing A. aniqiaoensis, A. kohimaensis, A. monticola, and A. adicola (Zhang et al. 2022); the latter four species were not included molecular analyses in Gan et al. (2020).

This species is named after the local town where it was discovered, the Putao Township in Kachin State, Myanmar. The researchers suggested the Chinese common name as “葡萄湍蛙,” which translates to “Putao Cascade Frog” (Gan et al. 2020).

The discovery of A. putaoensis fills in a geographical gap that existed between A. monticola species found in the eastern Himalaya region and southwestern China (Gan et al. 2020).

Many Amolops species reside in the mountainous regions between Indo-Burma and the Malay Peninsula, which is a biodiversity hotspot for herpetofauna (Zhang et al. 2022). However, a recent study found that a majority of the ecosystems in Myanmar are threatened by anthropogenic expansions, such as; infrastructure development, timber extraction, establishment of plantations for rubber and palm oil, agricultural development, urban expansion, and climate change. Most of the threats to the area comes from its recent accelerating economic development, which has led to the conversion of the natural ecosystems over the last 2 - 3 centuries (Murray et al. 2020). For this reason, negative impacts to the environment in the area can be foreseen, but without further investigations we cannot quantify the extent of the danger.

Basnet, D., Kandel, P., Chettri, N., Yang, Y., Lodhi, M. S., Htun, N. Z., Uddin, K., and Sharma, E. (2019). Biodiversity Research Trends and gaps from the confluence of three global biodiversity hotspots in the Far-Eastern Himalaya. International Journal of Ecology, 2019, 1–14. [link]

Gan, Y.-L., Qin, T., Lwin, Y. htet, Li, G.-G., Quan, R.-C., Liu, S., Yu, G.-H., Liu, S., and Yu, G.-H. (2020). A new species of Amolops (Anura: Ranidae) from northern Myanmar. Zoological Research, 41, 734–740. [link]

Murray, N. J., Keith, D. A., Duncan, A., Tizard, R., Ferrer-Paris, J. R., Worthington, T. A., Armstrong, K., Hlaing, N., Htut, W. T., Oo, A. H., Ya, K. Z., and Grantham, H. (2020). Myanmar’s terrestrial ecosystems: Status, threats and conservation opportunities. Biological Conservation, 252, 108834. [link]

Zhang, Y.-P., Liu, X.-L., Stuart, B. L., Wu, D.-Y., Wang, Y.-F., Che, J., and Yuan, Z.-Y. (2022). Amolops putaoensis Gan, Qin, Lwin, Li, quan, liu and Yu, 2020, a newly recorded torrent frog for China. Herpetozoa, 35, 231–237. [link]

Originally submitted by: Kara Kaur Sanghera, Desiree Bautista, Andrea Franco (2024-02-06)
Distribution by: Kara Kaur Sanghera, Desiree Bautista, Andrea Franco (updated 2024-02-06)
Life history by: Kara Kaur Sanghera, Desiree Bautista, Andrea Franco (updated 2024-02-06)
Trends and threats by: Kara Kaur Sanghera, Desiree Bautista, Andrea Franco (updated 2024-02-06)
Comments by: Kara Kaur Sanghera, Desiree Bautista, Andrea Franco (updated 2024-02-06)

Edited by: Michelle S. Koo, Ann T. Chang (2024-02-12)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2024 Amolops putaoensis: Putao Cascade Frog (English) <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 13, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 13 Jul 2024.

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