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Hylodes japi

The riverhead frog

Hylodes japi: at mating time, males escort females to their underwater chambers

CÉLIO HADDAD – UNESPHylodes japi: at mating time, males escort females to their underwater chambersCÉLIO HADDAD – UNESP

The crystal-clear waters of streams in the Japi Mountains, near Jundiaí in the interior of the state of São Paulo, have recently revealed a new species of tree frog: Hylodes japi, who participates in a peculiar kind of reproductive behavior. Having successfully attracted a mate, the male frog escorts his partner into a tiny chamber dug into the sand amidst the rocks at the bottom of the stream, accessible by a narrow entrance. One at a time, the couple enters the chamber, where they proceed to deposit and fertilize the eggs.  Biologist Fábio de Sá discovered the new species during his master’s studies, advised by Célio Haddad at São Paulo State University (Unesp) in the city of Rio Claro (Herpetologica, March 2015). Some time ago, Haddad himself had already observed other animals from this species, but identified them as belonging to a different, similar one. This identification of a new species was not the only new discovery. “In addition to being observed very rarely, this reproductive behavior had only been reported for fish, prior to being described for some other species in this family of amphibians,” says Sá. The frog was given its scientific name in homage to the only place it has even been seen: the forest reserve in Serra do Japi State Park. The area is under constant threat from the populous cities nearby – the park is located in the city of Jundiaí, about 60 kilometers from the center of São Paulo. In the tupi language, japi means riverhead, precisely the natural habitat of the new species.