AmphibiaWeb - Odorrana lipuensis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Odorrana lipuensis Mo, Chen, Wu, Zhang & Zhou, 2015
Lipu Odorous Frog
family: Ranidae
genus: Odorrana
Species Description: Mo, Y.-m., W.-c. Chen, H.-y. Wu, W. Zhang, and S.-c. Zhou. 2015. A new species of Odorrana inhabiting complete darkness in a karst cave in Guangxi, China. Asian Herpetological Research 6: 11–17.

AmphibiaChina 中国两栖类.

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



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Odorrana lipuensis is a medium-sized frog with a snout-vent length range in adult males between 40.7 - 47.7 mm and 51.1 - 55.4 mm in adult females. They have bulging eyes that are slightly elevated on either side of the face, no visible presence of a pineal body, a prominent tympanum on the anterior and posterior edges, no dorsolateral folds, small spinule on lateral sides of the fingers, circummarginal grooves on the fingers except on the first finger, presence of nuptial pads on male thumbs during mating season, and toes with expanded discs. Males lack vocal sacs. The skin is smooth with tiny bumps along the dorsal lateral surface of the body (Mo et al. 2015).

Odorrana lipuensis is most similar to O. yizhangensis and O. schmackeri, but differs by the latter two having vocal sacs. Furthermore, O. yizhangensis has tiny spinules on the chest and a visible pineal body and O. schmackeri has different coloring (notably a whitish ventrum vs. grey in O. lipuensis) and their eggs have pigmented poles. The body size of O. wuchuanensis, another cave-dwelling Odorrana species, is larger than O. lipuensis. Additionally, O. wuchuanensis has a dark grey with white textured ventrum and a visible pineal body (Mo et al. 2015). Odorrana lipuensis is also smaller than O. mutschmanni (Pham et al. 2016).

Odorrana lipuensis is grass-green with brown mottling or brown with grey mottling throughout the dorsal surface of the head and body. This dorsal color and patterning originates from the head, continues down the dorsum to the sacrum and through the hind limbs. The brown mottling coloration continues down the dorsal surface of the legs to appear as brown bands on the limbs. The limbs of O. lipuensis are a lighter shade of green. On the ventral surface of the head down throughout the body there is gray mottling. The ventral surface of the limbs has a pink hue. The ventral surface of limbs also shift to light gray spots rather than the darker gray seen on the abdomen. The irises are black and surrounded by a gold green color arrangement. During the mating season, males have white nuptial pads (Mo et al. 2015).

In preservative, the dorsal surface of the head and dorsum are brown with gray mottling. The ventral surface of the head, throat and abdomen are a creamy-white to off white coloration with brown mottling. This creamy-white to off white coloration with dark mottling continues on the ventral surface of the limbs (Mo et al. 2015).

There is variation in coloring and pattering with the ventral surface in some individuals displaying creamy-white with gray pigment around the throat, and upper chest/abdominal region. Individuals also displayed a brown dorsum with gray spots as opposed to the green with brown spots seen in others. There is also variation in the expanded discs present at the tip of the first finger and interorbital distances vary from being smaller to as wide as the diameter of the tympanum (Mo et al. 2015).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: China, Viet Nam


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Odorrana lipuensis was initially found in an isolated karstic limestone cave in Lipu County of the Guangxi Province, China (Mo et al. 2015, Liu et al. 2021). However, the species was also later collected from Cao Bang Province, Vietnam (Pham et al. 2016). At the type locality, the species was found in total darkness in a 2 m2 pool with a depth of approximately 60 cm and a temperature 20 - 21℃. The pool is approximately 80 m deep inside the cave.

This species has only been observed in karstic caves. Additional studies that survey a greater range of the various karstic cave systems must be conducted to better understand their distribution. It is hypothesized that since this karst region is prevalent in the area, the habitat range of O. lipuensis is quite larger than what has been observed (Mo et al. 2015).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Odorrana lipuensis inhabit cave pools that are in complete darkness. Air temperatures stay consistent within the cave from March through December (18 - 19℃). However, during the wet seasons and high-volume rainfall, flooding occurs in the cave and the pool where the adults are located overflow. During these times individuals could be located some 15 m from the original pool of water, but still remain in relative proximity to the body of water (Mo et al. 2015).

This species likely has specialized features for living in total darkness and finding mates, although more research is needed. The breeding season likely occurs from May to July, with egg-bearing females found in May. Females produce small (3.2 - 4.2 mm in diameter) creamy yellow eggs without pigmented poles (Mo et al. 2015).

Males have a white nuptial pad on the first finger, used for gripping females during mating with axillary amplexus. Males lack vocal sacs for calling (Mo et al. 2015).

Other species of anurans - Hylarana guentheri, Microhyla butleri, Microhyla fissipes, Duttaphrynus melanostictus, Fejervarya multistriata, and Rhacophorus mutus - have been documented around the karst caves that O. lipuensis inhabits, but none appear to occupy the same cave-dwelling niche (Mo et. al 2015).

Trends and Threats
As of 2021, O. lipuensis has not been assessed by the IUCN Red List. However, Odorrana wuchuanensis, a similar karst cave-dwelling species, was listed as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN in 2019 (as of 2020, it was downgraded to "Vulnerable"; IUCN 2020). It faces threats from habitat destruction from human activity that alter underground seepage of surface water into the cave. This impacts the specific humidity the frogs need to survive in the caves. Additionally, rocky desertification of the cave habitat has had massive impacts on the survivorship of the frogs, as they require a consistently wet environment (Huang et al. 2019). Land development around the cave habitats of O. lipuensis may have similarly harmful effects.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants

Bayesian Inference and Maximum Likelihood analyses on 16S mtDNA indicate that O. lipuensis is placed towards the root of the Odorrana genus and is sister to the rest of the members (Liu et al. 2021).

Odorrana lipuensis is believed to be one of three Odorrana lineages that independently evolved and adapted to karstic caves as their habitats, whereas most Odorrana species typically live in mountainous environments and high-gradient streams (Liu et al. 2021).

Odorrana lipuensis is named after the location from where it was first discovered, Lipu County of the Guangxi Province, China. Lipu Odorous Frog is the common name for the species (Mo et al. 2015).


Huang, Y., Zhao, W., Ding, Li, Bao, X., Wang, J., Lin, Y., Ran, J., Yang, De, Zou, H., Liu, J. (2019). “Habitat selection and genetic structure of the endangered frog species Odorrana wuchuanensis (Anura: Ranidae).” Zoological Science, 36(5), 402-409. [link]

IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2020. "Odorrana wuchuanensis." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T58751A63847147. Downloaded on 23 June 2021.

Liu, X., He, Y., Wang, Y., Beukema, W., Hou, S., Li, Y., Che, J., Yuan, Z. (2021) “A new frog species of the genus Odorrana (Anura: Ranidae) from Yunnan, China.” Zootaxa, 4908(2), 263-275. [link]

Mo, Y., Chen, W., Wu, H., Zhang, W., Zhou, S. (2015). “A new species of Odorrana inhabiting complete darkness in karst cave in Guangxi, China.” Asian Herpetological Research, 6(1) 11-17. [link]

Pham, C. T., Nguyen, T. Q., Le, M. D., Bonkowski, M., Ziegler, T. (2016) “A new species of Odorrana (Amphibia: Anura: Ranidae) from Vietnam,” Zootaxa 4084(3), 421-435. [link]

Originally submitted by: Nicholas Castillo, Michelle McCorkell, Alexandra Meyer (2021-06-23)
Description by: Nicholas Castillo, Michelle McCorkell, Alexandra Meyer (updated 2021-06-23)
Distribution by: Nicholas Castillo, Michelle McCorkell, Alexandra Meyer (updated 2021-06-23)
Life history by: Nicholas Castillo, Michelle McCorkell, Alexandra Meyer (updated 2021-06-23)
Trends and threats by: Nicholas Castillo, Michelle McCorkell, Alexandra Meyer (updated 2021-06-23)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2021-06-23)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Odorrana lipuensis: Lipu Odorous Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 18, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 18 Apr 2024.

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