New paper: “Catalogue of herpetological specimens of the Ewha Womans University Natural History Museum (EWNHM), Republic of Korea”

Check out our paper “Catalogue of herpetological specimens of the Ewha Womans University Natural History Museum (EWNHM), Republic of Korea”, published today in ZooKeys! The work was in collaboration with Prof. Yikweon Jang from Ewha W. University, and Steven Allain.

Figure 2. Some of the frog specimens deposited in the collection of the EWNHM A Bufo gargarizans (EWNHM-ANIMAL 5288) B Glandirana emeljanovi (EWNHM-ANIMAL 5296) C Bombina orientalis (EWNHM-ANIMAL 5292) D Rana huanrenensis (EWNHM-ANIMAL 6633).

The EWNHM opened as the first natural history museum of the Republic of Korea (S. Korea) in 1969. However, a complete catalogue of its herpetological collection has not been available since, although it holds many specimens of great scientific value. This basically means that the collection was unknown and unavailable to many researchers for years. To further complicate the problem, many specimens had degrading labels, or missing voucher numbers altogether – which make things very difficult if you were to navigate the collection to locate a certain specimen. And there’s yet another confusion. The existing voucher system was in direct conflict with another, unrelated voucher system applied to a public natural history research database.

To get around all these issues, we cataloged the entire herpetological collection. This involved changing degraded labels, updating nomenclature, photographing the specimens, and applying consistent voucher system to all specimens. And now this catalogue can serve as a reference point for the collection!

We’ve put in a lot of effort into this project, and there were some difficulties from time to time. But this work was just a lot of fun all the way, and as Yucheol Shin, the first author put it: “Seriously, spending time in the cool and quiet collection storage room and admiring the gems from the past are some of the best times you can have!” The gems in question include among other some very interesting dicephalic Gloydius saxatilis as well as the oldest collection-preserved Asian plethodontid: Karsenia koreana.

Now that basic cataloging process is complete, more collection-based research lies ahead of us! ✌🏽Full-text here:

Shin Y., Jang Y.,  Allain S. J. R. & Borzée A. (2020).Catalogue of herpetological specimens of the Ewha Womans University Natural History Museum (EWNHM), Republic of Korea. ZooKeys. 965: 103–139. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.965.52976.

Figure 5. Some of the snake specimens deposited in the collection of the EWNHM A Sibynophis chinen-sis (EWNHM-ANIMAL 6497) B Orientocoluber spinalis (EWNHM-ANIMAL 6500) C Gloydius brevi-caudus (EWNHM-ANIMAL 6505) D Oocatochus rufodorsatus (EWNHM-ANIMAL 6564).
(PDF) Catalogue of herpetological specimens of the Ewha Womans University Natural History Museum (EWNHM), Republic of Korea.

New PhD students

Congratulations to Vishal Kumar Prasad and Johanna Ambu for being accepted to NJFU, and starting their PhD in the lab this month.

While the first semester is going to start online due to the current situation, we hope they will be physically present as soon as possible and start their work on amphibian communication, distribution and abundance.

Good luck to them!


Amphibian trade regulation in the Republic of Korea

New policy recommendation published in collaboration with the Lab of Animal Communication from Ewha Woman’s University!

Research on species conservation provides the base for the subsequent implementation of conservation projects. Similarly, conservation policy recommendations provide a support that can be used by law makers to promote the conservation of species and habitats. Here, we provide a policy recommendation aimed at stopping the proliferation of emerging diseases and invasive species in the Republic of Korea.

Amphibian diseases and invasive amphibian species are both generally introduced through the wildlife trade, either for human consumption or for the pet trade. However, adequate regulations can prevent such introductions.

In the Republic of Korea, the main known threats coming from invasive diseases are Batrachochytrids. While B. dendrobatidis is known to have a sub-lethal impact on local species, the impact of D. salamandrivorans is unknown. In addition, the proliferation of the invasive American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) has resulted in the extirpation of some local amphibian populations, the spread of diseases and there are multiple risks of invasion by other species.

The same risks and threats to the ecosystems arise from most amphibian species in the trade, some of which are already found in the wild. While regulations exist for the trade of wildlife in general, they are not directly addressing the amphibian trade, especially not newly traded species. Based on these variables and threats, we recommend a restriction to the amphibian trade in the Republic of Korea.

Screenshot policy recommendation

New Korean treefrog species!

Delighted to introduce you to a newly described species, the Yellow-bellied treefrog (Dryophytes flaviventris)! This research is a collaborative effort between researchers of R Korea, DPR Korea and PR China, and it also corrects the relationship between D. immaculatus and D. suweonensis. The three species have diverged about a million years ago and are different based on genomic data, call properties and morphometrics.

D flaviventris graphical abstract
The three treefrogs species from the D. immaculatus group around the Yellow Sea

D flaviventris holotype
An amplexus of the newly described Dryophytes flaviventris

New publication!

New paper in collaboration with the Lab of Animal Communication from Ewha Woman’s University, with Siti N. Othman as 1st author! Congratulations!

We determined that divergence time and ancestral range of Duttaphrynus melanostictus were strongly influenced by the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution, resulting in three segregated clades in the Eastern Indo-Malayan realm. We provide possible patterns of past dispersal pathways for the species on the East and Southeast Asian mainland, and highlight the association between dispersion on the Southern Sundaic and Wallacea with prehistoric humans migrations. Humans are also likely to have helped the species disperse to Taiwan again in recent times.

SD Othman_D melano_July 2020