Fig. A) Theloderma sp. collected from Tanintharyi state, Myanmar.



About the project:

Theloderma is a diverse genus, whose members are generally small to mid size, secretive and arboreal. As known presently, this group is not monphyletic (Li et al. 2009). The distinct species are recognized by only a few minor morphological characteristics and natural history information for most species is lacking (Inger et al. 1999). Three Theloderma species (T. andersoni, T. asperum and T. phyrnoderma) are listed on Amphibiaweb as inhabiting Myanmar however use of T. andersoni as a species name has been questioned (Bossuyt & Dubois, 2001) and T. phyrnoderma is considred a synonum of T. asperum, (a search in Frost's database reveals 11 synomies for T. asperum). There is a need for clarification in the identification of members of this group.

One of my current Biotech Master's students (Hai Ngyen) and I are working on identifying preserved specimen from the California Academy of Sciences collected in Myanmar. Currently, we are researching members of the Theloderma complex, members of the Rhacophoridae family, found in a variety of habitats in northern India, southern China and Southeast Asia. Using molecular and morphological characters we will determine whether these are members of known Theloderma, or if they are new species.

Preliminary findings:

Analysis of 1,500 bp of DNA sequence from regions of four genes (12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, tyrosinase gene, and rhodopsin gene) indicate that there are four distinct species present. We are in the process of further examining these individuals for distinguishable characteristics. Members of two genetically distinct groups are pictured on the side (Fig. A) and below (Fig. B).

Fig. B) Theloderma sp. collected from Kachin and Chin states, Myanmar.