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Hiding in plain sight, new frog species found in New York City
Date:3/16/2012

In the wilds of New York City--or as wild as you can get that close to skyscrapers--scientists have found a new leopard frog species.

For years, biologists mistook it for a more widespread variety of leopard frog.

While biologists regularly discover new species in remote rainforests, finding this one in ponds and marshes--sometimes within view of the Statue of Liberty--is a big surprise, said scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles; Rutgers University; the University of California, Davis and the University of Alabama.

"For a new species to go unrecognized in this area is amazing," said UCLA biologist Brad Shaffer, formerly at UC Davis.

Shaffer's research is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology.

In recently published results in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Shaffer and other scientists used DNA data to compare the new frog to all other leopard frog species in the region.

"Many amphibians are secretive and very hard to find, but these frogs are pretty obvious animals," said Shaffer.

"This shows that even in the largest city in the U.S., there are still new and important species waiting to be discovered."

The researchers determined the frog is an entirely new species. The unnamed frog joins a crowd of more than a dozen distinct leopard frog species.

The newly identified wetland species likely once lived on Manhattan. It's now only known from a few nearby locations: Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is the center of its current range.

Lead paper author Cathy Newman, now of Louisiana State University, was working with Leslie Rissler, a biologist at the University of Alabama, on an unrelated study of the southern leopard frog species when she first contacted scientist Jeremy Feinberg at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Feinberg asked if she could help him investigate some "unusual fr
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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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