Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Article
Published: 2023-03-27
Page range: 99-112
Abstract views: 377
PDF downloaded: 46

Species distribution modelling of Hylarana Species (Anura, Ranidae) and the problem of accurate species identification

Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national dʼHistoire naturelle, CNRS, SU, EPHE, UA, CP 30, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France
Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national dʼHistoire naturelle, CNRS, SU, EPHE, UA, CP 30, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France
Laboratoire de Biologie et Ecologie Animales, UFR/SVT, Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, 03 Bp 7021 Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national dʼHistoire naturelle, CNRS, SU, EPHE, UA, CP 30, 57 rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France
Amphibia Asia Data criteria Distribution Hylarana erythraea H. macrodactyla H. taipehensis H. tytleri Ranidae


Species of Hylarana Tschudi, 1838 are among the most common amphibian species in the Oriental region. Their poorly known geographical distribution impacts species delimitation and conservation actions. We compiled geographical data from literature, online databases and museum collections for the four currently recognized species, Hylarana erythraea, H. taipehensis, H. tytleri and H. macrodactyla. We obtained 1014 occurrence records and allocated a quality rate to each of these points: A—species identification confirmed by ancillary data; B—species identification unconfirmed; and C—conflict between species name, geographic origin and morphological characters; resulted in exclusion of the latter in final analyses. Based on these different datasets we built species occurrence maps for each of the four species. These maps were compared to already available distribution maps, introducing a more precise distribution for the four species but with persistence of data gaps within less prospected areas. We then built Species Distribution Models (SDMs) based on climatic data. Discrepancies between observed distribution ranges and areas with suitable climatic niches are discussed in a taxonomical context. Hylarana species, although taxonomically still not fully resolved and occupying similar habitats, exhibit differences in distribution pattern. Models also fill data gaps, introducing relevant suitable climatic niches within close range of species’ distribution areas. Differences were observed between A and B-quality data models, with high suitable habitats being less present in most cases for B-quality. Our study shows the importance of merging A and B-quality data, represented by A+B dataset, thus creating more accurate models, but also underlines the necessity to have access to correct data to limit bias.



  1. AmphibiaWeb (2023) University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Available from: (accessed 4 December 2020)
    Anderson, J. (1879) Zoological results of the two expeditions to Western Yunnan and monograph of the two Cetacean genera
    Platanista and Orcella. London, Quaritch. Vol. 1: i-xxv + 1-985; Vol. 2: pl. 1-81.
    Araújo, M.B. & Pearson, R.G. (2005) Equilibrium of species’ distributions with climate. Ecography, 28, 693–695.
    Batsch, A.J.G.K. (1796) Umriß der gesammten Naturgeschichte: ein Auszug aus den frühern Handbüchern des Verfassers für seine Vorlesungen. Christian Ernst Gabler, Jena & Leipzig, 287 pp.
    Bellard, C., Cassey, P. & Blackburn, T.M. (2016) Alien species as a driver of recent extinctions. Biology Letters, 12, 20150623.
    Bidinger, K., Lötters, S., Rödder, D. & Veith, M. (2012) Species distribution models for the alien invasive Asian Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). Journal of applied Entomology, 136, 109–123.
    Bortamuli, T. & Bordoloi, S. (2008) Wetlands of Sivasagar District of Assam as congenial habitat for amphibia. In: Sengupta, M. & Dalwani, R. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Taal: the 12th Lake Conference, National Institute of Ecology, India, 2008, pp. 525–528
    Carstens, B.C., Pelletier, T.A., Reid, N.M. & Satler, J.D. (2013) How to fail at species delimitation. Molecular Ecology, 22, 4369–4383.
    Chan, K.O., Hutter, C.R., Wood, P.L., Grismer, L.L. & Brown, R.M. (2020) Larger, unfiltered datasets are more effective at resolving phylogenetic conflict: Introns, exons, and UCEs resolve ambiguities in Golden-backed frogs (Anura: Ranidae; genus Hylarana). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 151, 106899.
    Das, I., Hass, A. & Tuen, A.A. (Eds.) (2009) Biology and conservation of tropical Asian amphibians: Proceedings of the conference “Biology of the amphibians in the Sunda Region, south-east Asia”. Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, Universiti Malaysia, Sarawak, 170 pp.
    De Queiroz, K. (2007) Species concepts and species delimitation. Systematic Biology, 56 (6), 879–886.
    Deuti, K. & Goswami, B.B.C. (1995) A field guide to the amphibians of West Bengal Plains. World Wildlife Foundation for Nature, New Delhi, 53 pp.
    Doody, J.S., Rhind, D., Green, B., Castellano, C., McHenry, C. & Clulow, S. (2017) Chronic effects of an invasive species on an animal community. Ecology, 98, 2093–2101.
    Duckworth, J.W., Salter, R.E. & Khounboline, K. (1999) Wildlife in Lao PDR. Wildlife Conservation Society, Vientiane, 275 pp.
    Dubois, A. (1998) Mapping European amphibians and reptiles: collective inquiry and scientific methodology. Alytes, 15, 176–204.
    Elith, J., Graham, C.H., Anderson, R.P., Dudík, M., Ferrier, S., Guisan, A., Hijmans, R.J., Huettmann, F., Leathwick, J.R., Lehmann, A., Li, J., Lohmann, L.G., Loiselle, B.A., Manion, G., Moritz, C., Nakamura, M., Nakazawa, Y., Overton, J.M.C., Peterson, A.T., Phillips, S.J., Richardson, K., Scachetti-Pereira, R., Schapire, R.E., Soberon, J., Williams, S., Wisz, M.S. & Zimmerman, N.E. (2006) Novel methods improve prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence data. Ecography, 29, 129–151.
    Elith, J., Phillips, S.J., Hastie, T., Dudík, M., En Chee, Y. & Yates, C.J. (2011) A statistical explanation of Maxent for ecologists. Diversity and Distribution, 17, 43–57.
    Feeley, K.J. & Silman, M.R. (2011) Keep collecting: accurate species distribution modelling requires more collections than previously thought. Diversity and Distribution, 17, 1132–1140.
    Feuda, R., Bannikova, A.A., Zemlemerova, E.D., Febbraro, M., Loy, A., Hutterer, R., Aloise, G., Zykov, A.E., Annesi, F. & Colangelo, P. (2015) Tracing the evolutionary history of the mole, Talpa europaea, through mitochondrial DNA phylogeography and species distribution modelling. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 114, 495–512.
    Gallien, L., Douzet, R., Pratte, S., Zimmermann, N.E. & Thuiller, W. (2012) Invasive species distribution models – how violating the equilibrium assumption can create new insights. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 21, 1126–1136.
    Giannini, T.C., Chapman, D.S., Saraiva, A.M., Alves-dos-Santos, I. & Biesmeijer, J.C. (2013) Improving species distribution models using biotic interactions: a case study of parasites, pollinators and plants. Ecography, 36, 649–656.
    Ghosh, A.K. (1992) Fauna of West Bengal. Part 2. State Fauna Series, Zoological Survey of India, 3, 1–505.
    Günther, A.C.L.G. (1858) Neue Batrachier in der Sammlung des britischen Museums. Archiv für Naturgeschichte, 24, 319–328.
    Harikrishnan, S. & Vasudevan, K. (2018) Amphibians of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands: distribution, natural history, and notes on taxonomy. Alytes, 36, 238–265.
    Hasan, M., Islam, M.M., Md. Khan, M.R., Alam, M.S., Kurabayashi, A., Igawa, T., Kuramoto, M. & Sumida M. (2012) Cryptic anuran biodiversity in Bangladesh revealed by mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene sequences. Zoological Science, 29, 162–172.
    Hasan, M., Lai, J.-S., Poyarkov, N.A., Ohler, A., Oliver, L.A., Kakehashi, R., Kurabayashi, A. & Sumida M. (2019) Identification of Hylarana tytleri (Theobald, 1868): elements for the systematics of the genus Hylarana Tschudi, 1838 (Anura, Ranidae). Alytes, 37, 1–30.
    Hijmans, R.J., Cameron, S.E., Parra, J.L., Jones, P.G. & Jarvis, A. (2005) Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology, 25, 1965–1978.
    Hillis, D.M. (2019) Species Delimitation in Herpetology. Journal of Herpetology, 53, 3–12.
    IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee. (2022) Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 15. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Committee. Available from: (accessed 8 March 2023)
    Karsen, S.J., Wai-neng Lau, M. & Bogadek, A. (1986) Hong Kong amphibians and reptiles. Provisional Urban Council Publication, Hong Kong, 136 pp.
    Köhler, G., Tun, A.M., Haas, M., Jansen, M. & Than, N.L. (2018) Observations at a frog community in Bago, Myanmar. Sauria, 40, 25–42.
    Lescure, J. & Massary, J.-C. (2012) Atlas des amphibiens et reptiles de France. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Biotope Editions, Mèze, 272 pp.
    Lobo, J.M., Baselga, A., Hortal, J., Jiménez‐Valverde, A. & Gómez, J.F. (2007) How does the knowledge about the spatial distribution of Iberian dung beetle species accumulate over time? Diversity and Distributions, 13, 772–780.
    Merow, C., Smith, M.J. & Silander, J.A. (2013) A practical guide to Maxent for modeling species’ distributions: what it does, and why inputs and settings matter. Ecography, 36, 1058–1069.
    Mitchell, A. (2017) Geological belts, plate boundaries, and mineral deposits in Myanmar. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 524 pp.
    Morelli, F. & Tryjanowski, P. (2015) No species is an island: testing the effects of biotic interactions on models of avian niche occupation. Ecology and evolution, 5, 759–768.
    Nicolas, V., Mataame, A., Crochet, P.A., Geniez, P., Fahd, S. & Ohler, A. (2018) Phylogeography and ecological niche modeling unravel the evolutionary history of the African green toad, Bufotes boulengeri boulengeri (Amphibia: Bufonidae), through the Quaternary. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 56, 102–116.
    Ningombam, B. & Bordoloi, S. (2007) Amphibian fauna of Loktak lake, Manipur, India with ten new records for the state. Zoos’ Print Journal, 22, 2688–2690.
    Ohler, A. & Mallick, P.K. (2002) Rana (Hylarana) sensu Dubois (1992) in India and the identity of Hylarana tytleri Theobald, 1868. Hamadryad, 27, 57–65.
    Oliver, L.A., Prendini, E., Kraus, F. & Raxworthy, C.J. (2015) Systematics and biogeography of the Hylarana frog (Anura: Ranidae) radiation across tropical Australasia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 90, 176–192.
    Orlov, N.L., Murphy, R.W., Ananjeva, N.B., Ryabov, S.A. & Cuc, H.T. (2002) Herpetofauna of Vietnam, a checklist. Part I. Amphibia. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 9, 81–104.
    Pawar, S. & Birand, A. (2001) A survey of amphibians, reptiles, and birds in Northeast India. Centre for Ecological Research and Conservation, Mysore, 118 pp.
    Pearman, P.B., Guisan, A., Broennimann, O. & Randin, C.F. (2008) Niche dynamics in space and time. Ecology & Evolution, 23, 149–158.
    Phillips, S.J., Anderson, R.P., Dudík, M., Schapire, R.E. & Blair, M.E. (2017) Opening the black box: an open-source release of Maxent. Ecography, 40, 887–893.
    Poyarkov, N., Nguyen, T., Popov, E., Geissler, P., Pawangkhanant, P., Thy, N., Suwannapoom, C. & Orlov, N. (2021) Recent progress in taxonomic studies, biogeographic analysis, and revised checklist of Amphibians in Indochina. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 28, 1–110.
    Radosavljevic, A. & Anderson, R.P. (2014) Making better Maxent models of species distributions: complexity, overfitting and evaluation. Journal of Biogeography, 41, 629–643.
    Raxworthy, C., Ingram, C., Rabibisoa, N. & Pearson, R. (2007) Applications of ecological niche modeling for species delimitation: a review and empirical evaluation using Day Geckos (Phelsuma) from Madagascar. Systematic Biology, 56, 907–923.
    Rovito, S.M. (2017) The geography of speciation in Neotropical salamanders. Herpetologica, 73, 229–241.
    RStudio Team (2015) RStudio: Integrated Development for R. RStudio, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts. Available from: (accessed 30 March 2019)
    Sangma, M.A. & Saikia, P.K. (2015) New records of amphibian fauna from Tura Peak, reserve forest, West Garo Hills District, Meghalaya, Northeast India. Journal of New Biological Reports, 4, 115–126.
    Saunders, S.C., Chen, J., Crow, T.R. & Brosofske, K.D. (1998) Hierarchical relationships between landscape structure and temperature in a managed forest landscape. Landscape Ecology, 13, 381–395.
    Schlegel, H. (1837) Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien, nach der Natur oder dem Leben entworfen. Arnz & Comp., Düsseldorf, 141 pp.
    Schleich, H.H. & Kästle, W. (2002) Amphibian and reptiles of Nepal. A.R.G. Ganter Verlag K. G., Koeltz Scientific Books, Konigstein, 1211 pp.
    Sen R. & Mathew, R. (2008) Studies on lower vertebrates of Nagaland. Zoological Survey of India, Occasional Papers, 285, 1–205.
    Shahrudin, S., Jaafar, I.H., Rahim, N.D.A. & Akil, M.A.M.M. (2011) An annotated checklist of the herpetofauna of Beris Valley, Kedah, Malaysia. Tropical Life Sciences Research, 22, 13–24.
    Sinclair, S.J., White, M.D. & Newell, G.R. (2010) How useful are species distribution models for managing biodiversity under future climates? Ecology and Society, 15 (1), 8. []
    Sindaco, R., Doria, G., Razzetti, E. & Bernini, F. (2006) Atlante degli anfibi e dei rettili d’Italia / Atlas of Italian amphibians and reptiles. Societas Herpetologica Italiana, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 792 pp.
    Sites, J.W. & Marshall, J.C. (2004) Operational criteria for delimiting species. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 35, 199–227.
    Soberón, J. & Peterson, A.T. (2005) Interpretation of models of fundamental ecological niches and species’ distributional areas. Biodiversity Informatics, 2, 1–10.
    Sodhi, N.S., Brook, B.W. & Bradshaw, C.J.A. (2009) Causes and consequences of species extinctions. In: Levin, S.A. (Eds.), The Princeton guide to ecology. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, pp. 514–520.
    Supsup, C.E., Puna, N.M., Asis, A.A., Panaguinit, M.F.G., Guinto, F.M., Rico, E.B., Diesmos, A.C., Brown, R.M. & Mallari, N.A.D. (2016) Amphibians and reptiles of Cebu, Philippines: The poorly understood herpetofauna of an island with very little remaining natural habitat. Asian Herpetological Research, 7, 151–179.
    Swanson, J.E., Pierce, C.L., Dinsmore, S.J., Smalling, K.L., Vandever, M.W., Stewart, T.W. & Muths, E. (2018) Factors influencing anuran wetland occupancy in an agricultural landscape. Herpetologica, 75, 47–56.
    Teynié, A., Nguyen, T.Q., Lorvelec, O., Piquet, A., Lottier, A. & David, P. (2014) Amphibiens et reptiles du Laos : nouvelles données nationales et provinciales. Bulletin de la Société Herpétologique de France, 151, 21–52.
    Theobald, W. (1868) Catalogue of reptiles in the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 37, 1–88.
    Thy, N. & Holden, J. (2008) A field guide to the amphibians of Cambodia. Flora and Fauna International, Phnom Penh, 127 pp.
    Troudet, J., Vignes-Lebbe, R., Grandcolas, P. & Legendre, F. (2018) The increasing disconnection of primary biodiversity data from specimens: how does it happen and how to handle it? Systematic Biology, 67, 1110–1119.
    Tschudi, J.J. (1838) Classification der Batrachier mit Berücksichtigung der fossilen Thiere dieser Abtheilung der Reptilien. Petitpierre, Neuchâtel, 99 pp., 6 pls.
    Van Denburgh, J. (1909) New and previously uncorrected species of reptiles and amphibians from the island of Formosa. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 3, 49–56.
    Van der Valk, A.G. (2005) Water-level fluctuations in North American prairie wetlands. Hydrobiologia, 539, 171–188.
    Warren, D.L., Glor, R.E. & Turelli, M. (2010) ENMTools: a toolbox for comparative studies of environmental niche models. Ecography, 33, 607–611.
    Winston, J.E. (1999) Describing species: practical taxonomic procedure for biologists. Columbia University Press, New York, New York, 541 pp.
    Wollenberg Valero, K.C., Marshall, J.C., Bastiaans, E., Caccone, A., Camargo, A., Morando, M., Niemiller, M.L., Pabijan, M., Russello, M.A., Sinervo, B., Werneck, F.P., Sites, J.W., Wiens, J.J. & Steinfartz, S. (2019) Patterns, mechanisms and genetics of speciation in reptiles and amphibians. Genes, 10(9), 646.
    Zainudin, R., Nor, S.M., Ahmad, N., Md-Zain, B.M. & Rahman, A. (2010) Genetic structure of Hylarana erythraea (Amphibia: Anura: Ranidae) from Malaysia. Zoological Study, 49, 688–702.
    Zhou, W.-W., Wen, Y., Fu, J., Xu, Y.-B., Jin, J.-Q., Ding, L.I., Min, M.-S., Che, J. & Zhang, Y.-P. (2012) Speciation in the Rana chensinensis species complex and its relationship to the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Molecular Ecology, 21, 960–973.