Cape York Graceful Treefrog
|Species Description: McDonald KR, Rowley JJL, Richards SJ, Frankham GJ 2016 A new species of treefrog (Litoria) from Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Zootaxa 4171: 153-169.|
Taxonomic Notes: Following the Australian Society of Herpetology, AmphibiaWeb uses Litoria instead of Ranoidea or Dryopsophus (contrary to Dubois and Fretey 2016 and Duellman et al 2016).
© 2016 Jodi J. L. Rowley (1 of 5)
Litoria bella is a medium-sized tree frog that was only described from male specimens that had a snout-vent length range from 34.5 to 41.8 mm. The snout is obtusely rounded from the dorsal view and truncated from the profile. The oval shaped nostrils are closer to the tip of the snout than the eyes that are moderately large. The tympanic rim is slightly elevated and the top margin is covered by a slightly raised supratympanic skin-fold. A vocal sac is also present. Litoria bella has webbed feet, but the webbing does not extend to the disks. The disks are well developed with distinct circummarginal grooves. The dorsal surface is finely granular, while ventral surfaces are coarsely granular (McDonald et al. 2016).
Litoria bella are characterized by moderately large males, a green dorsum, orange ventor, bright orange digits and webbing, purple thighs, lack of a canthal stripe, white bones, highly pulsed single-note advertisement call. Litoria bella is most visually similar to L. chloris and L. gracilenta, but can be distinguishing by several characteristics. Specifically, L. bella is larger than L. chloris. Additionally, the orange coloration on the ventrum and webbing in L. bella differentiates it from both the yellowish-white ventrum and yellow webbing of L. chloris and white to yellow ventrum and yellow webbing of L. gracilenta. The thighs of L. bella have a more bluish purple tint than the reddish purple tint in L. gracilenta and L. gracilenta has a pale canthal stripe, while L. bella does not. The bright golden iris in L. bella is in contrast with reddish-orange iris in L. chloris and the brownish gold iris of L. gracilenta. Calls of L. bella have fewer pulsed notes than L. chloris and fewer pulses and a slower rate than L. gracilenta (McDonald et al. 2016).
In life, the skin on the dorsal body is bright green. The dorsal surfaces of the fingers, toes, webbing, and inner surface of the upper part of the arms is bright orange. The stomach is bright yellow with orange shading. There is purple and blue iridescent coloring on the upper ventral thighs with a stripe along the middle. The eyelids are bright yellow to gold color with gold speckling when closed. The iris itself is black (McDonald et al. 2016).
In preservative, the bright green fades and changes to a dark blue/gray with a tint of green dorsal surface that is barely noticeable. The fingers, toes, webbing, the upper thighs become a pale yellow mixed with a brown hue. The eyelids are a pale yellow while the iris itself is black (McDonald et al. 2016)
There is little variation within L. bella (McDonald et al. 2016).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Australia
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Litoria bella males have single note calls, however, some calls are only separated by a short interval of 0.88 - 5.78 s. Calls lasted 1.42 - 2.62 s and had a pulse rate of 56 to 64 pulses per second and a dominant frequency of 2.6 to 2.8 kHz that increased over the duration of the call (McDonald et al. 2016).
They exhibit inguinal amplexus (McDonald et al. 2016).
The brownish eggs contained in a clear jelly, about 606 - 844, are laid by the females in clusters near the surface of the water in temporary pools (McDonald et al. 2016).
Trends and Threats
Litoria bella was originally thought to be part of L. gracilenta. Bayesian Inference analyses estimated using ND4 and 16S found that L. bella was most closely related to L. auae, followed by the clade formed by L. chloris and L. gracilenta (McDonald et. al. 2016, Sulaeman et al. 2021).
Despite being separated by a biogeographical barrier, the Laura Basin Gap, L. bella is more closely related to L. auae, which is found in New Guinea, than L. gracilenta in Australia. This relationship indicates a close biogeographic and evolutionary relationship between Cape York Peninsula and southern New Guinea (McDonald et al. 2016)
The species epithet, “bella” comes from the Latin word, meaning “beautiful”. This is in reference to the beautiful coloration of the L. bella (McDonald et al. 2016).
Mcdonald, K. R., Rowley, J. R., Richards, S. J., Frankham, G. J. (2016). "A new species of treefrog (Litoria) from Cape York Peninsula, Australia." Zootaxa, 4171. 153-169. [link]
Sulaeman, T. N., Hamidy, A., Farajallah, A., Munir, M. (2021). "Mitochondrial DNA suggests the existence of two distinct species in Moluccas and New Guinea within Nyctimystes infrafrenatus (Günther, 1867)." Biodiversitas, 22(8), 3287-3297. [link]
Originally submitted by: Carrie DeCuzzi, Yumi Lee (2022-05-11)
Description by: Carrie DeCuzzi, Yumi Lee (updated 2022-05-11)
Distribution by: Carrie DeCuzzi, Yumi Lee (updated 2022-05-11)
Life history by: Carrie DeCuzzi, Yumi Lee (updated 2022-05-11)
Trends and threats by: Carrie DeCuzzi, Yumi Lee (updated 2022-05-11)
Comments by: Carrie DeCuzzi, Yumi Lee (updated 2022-05-11)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2022-05-11)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Litoria bella: Cape York Graceful Treefrog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/8519> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 1, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 1 Jun 2023.
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