Mature males attain snout-vent-lengths (SVL) of 17.7 – 21.3 mm and gravid females average 23.0 – 25.6 mm in SVL (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005; Karunarathna and Amarasinghe 2010). Tympanum discernible. Snout angle category 5 (angle of snout ~ 95°). Dorsal surface of males with horn-like spinules; females with glandular warts. Supratympanic fold prominent. Canthal edges rounded. Lingual papilla absent. Calcar absent. Supernumerary tubercles present on palm and foot. Toes medially webbed. Throat, chest and belly granular. Black patches on anterior surface of thigh absent. Nuptial pad present in males (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005).
Colour in life: Dorsal part of head and dorsum chestnut brown. Flank dark brown or black with white or light-blue patches. Inguinal zone ashy brown. Loreal region, tympanic region and tympanum dark brown. Area around tympanum with light-blue dots. Lips dark brown. Base of upper arm, distal half of lower arm and fingers dorsally dark brown. Thigh and shank dorsally chestnut brown with dark-brown crossbars. Foot dorsally light brown, ventrally dark brown. Area around vent dark brown. Throat, margin of throat and chest brown. Belly ashy brown with dark-brown patches. Underside of thigh and webbing yellowish brown (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005).
Colour in alcohol: Dorsal part of head and dorsum brown. Flank ashy brown with dark-brown patches. Inguinal zone ashy brown. Loreal region, tympanic region and tympanum dark brown. Lips dark brown. Base of upper arm, distal half of lower arm and fingers dorsally dark brown. Femur and shank dorsally light brown with dark-brown crossbars. Foot dorsally light brown, ventrally dark brown. Area around vent dark brown. Throat, margin of throat and chest brown. Belly ashy brown with dark-brown patches. Underside of thigh and webbing yellowish brown (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005).
Similar species: Pseudophilautus popularis closely resembles P. rus and P. regius. P. popularis can be distinguished from P. rus by the absence of black patches on anterior side of thigh (vs. black patches on anterior thigh present in P. rus), snout angle category 5 (vs. snout angle category 6 in P. rus), nuptial pad present (vs. nuptial pad absent in P. rus), and head dorsally convex (vs. head dorsally flat in P. rus) (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005).
P. popularis can be distinguished from P. regius by having a snout angle category 5, or angle of snout ~ 95° (vs. snout angle category 7, or angle of snout ~ 105°) in P. regius); tympanum distinct, oval, oblique (vs. tympanum discernible, oval, oblique in P. regius); snout and side of head with glandular warts (vs. snout and side of head with horn-like spinules in P. regius); webbing between toes I and II absent (vs. webbing between toes I and II present in P. regius) (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Sri Lanka
P. popularis is a widely distributed species found in many localities within the lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. It is known from Perediniya, Galle, Kitugale and Pussellawe (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005), and is also found in Soysapura (Moratuwa), Kottawa (Pannipitiya), Ambagamuwa, and Bellanwila-Attidiya sanctuary, Dehiwala (Karunarathna et al. 2008, 2010; Karunarathna and Amarasinghe 2010; Nayana Pradeep and Ukuwela 2009; Samarasinghe 2011). It has been recorded from elevations between 15-1070 m above sea level (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005; Karunarathna et al. 2008, 2010; Karunarathna and Amarasinghe 2010; Nayana Pradeep and Ukuwela 2009; Samarasinghe 2011).
It is a habitat generalist which perches on low vegetation near forest edges, degraded forests, and grass lands. As the name suggests, it is commonly encountered near anthropogenic habitats (Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda 2005).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Males begin calling at dusk. They are found calling perched on low vegetation 0.2–1.5 m above the ground. The advertisement call of P. popularis consists of a pulsed single note (“creek”). Each note consists of 5–13 prominent pulses and the dominant frequency ranges from 3281–4070 Hz. Samarasinghe (2011) also describes two additional notes which are given occasionally in between advertisement calls: a short single note (“click”) and a long iambic multi note call (“trill”) emitted in a staccato pattern. The time duration of the (“click”) note is 17 ms. The (“trill”) consists of 2–6 notes (Samarasinghe 2011).
During the months of April and November much smaller young adult males (mean snout-vent-length =15.21 mm) can be observed. They have more rounded and blunt snouts than adults (Samarasinghe 2011). Although these young adults also produce a single note call which is similar sounding to adults, it is comparatively shorter and higher pitched than in adults. The dominant frequency ranges from 4769– 4876 Hz (Samarasinghe 2011).
This species is a direct developer. Karunarathna and Amarasinghe (2010) reported an observation on its breeding behaviour: A female frog excavated a pit of 52 mm in diameter by turning around in it clockwise and using both fore and hind limbs. It eventually laid 11 spherical, pure white eggs with a mean diameter of 3.8 mm. The eggs were later mixed with soil and the female pressed the eggs using her lower jaw. Later the nest site was covered with soft soil and leaf litter to conceal it (Karunarathna and Amarasinghe 2010).
Trends and Threats
Agricultural pesticides, toxins, pollutants and intensive urbanization are major threats to this species, although these are mainly localized at present. It occurs in at least one protected area, Bellanwila-Attidiya sanctuary in Dehiwala.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Species authority: Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda (2005).
The species-name popularis (Latin, ‘of the people’) refers to the entirely synanthropic distribution of this species.
Karunarathna, D. M. S. S. and Amarasinghe, A. A. T. (2010). ''Field observations on the reproductive behaviour of Philautus popularis Manamendra-Arachchi and Pethiyagoda, 2005 (Amphibia: Rhacophoridae).'' Sauria, 32(3), 57-62.
Karunarathna, D. M. S. S., Amarasinghe, A. A. T., Gabadage, D. E., Bahir, M. M., and Harding, L. E. (2010). ''Current status of faunal diversity in Bellanwila-Attidiya sanctuary, Colombo district – Sri Lanka.'' Taprobanica, 2(1), 48-63.
Karunarathna, D. M. S. S., Athukorale, D.A.M.M., Pradeep, W. A. A. D. G., Jayawardena, J. K. P. P. D., Rashintha, K. P. A., Perera, W. W. D. H. P., Wijesinghe, W. A. D. S. P. and Jayasekara, M. H. S. A. (2008). ''Some observations on the non-captive faunal diversity in the National Zoological Gardens Dehiwala and its environs in Sri Lanka.'' Tiger Paper, 35(1), 13-21.
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.
Nayana Pradeep, D. M. K and Ukuwela, K. D. B. (2009). ''A survey on the amphibians of Ambagamuwa, a tropical midland wet location in Sri Lanka.'' Herpetology Notes, 2, 81-85.
Samarasinghe, D. J. S. (2011). ''Description of the complex advertisement call of Pseudophilautus popularis (Manamendra-Arachchi & Pethiyagoda, 2005) (Amphibia: Rhacophoridae).'' Zootaxa, 3002, 62-64.
Originally submitted by: Dinal Samarasinghe (first posted 2011-11-16)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2012-07-31)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2012 Pseudophilautus popularis <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/6494> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 23, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Sep 2023.
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