“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus once said. The book in my hand is doing just that. I am talking about recently released Pictorial Guide to Frogs and Toads of the Western Ghats by Dr. KV Gururaja. This book exemplifies presenting complicated scientific information in a very simple manner. This wonderful field guide with colorful photos for identification of frogs & toads has not only helped identify and learn about frogs and toads but has also instilled a deep curiosity to explore more.
Frog populations is declining at an unexpected rate in the last few decades. Nearly one thirds of the worlds amphibians are threatened with extinction. Several species have already disappeared in the last few years. What is more interesting is that we are discovering new species from bio-diversity hotspot regions like Western Ghats of India. Distressing fact is that with accelerated speed of destruction of habitat in these regions may result in the disappearance of the species even before their discovery. One of the difficulties I used to face as a photographer and a nature enthusiasts was a good field guide to identify these frogs and toads. I was using “Amphibians of Peninsular India” by Ranjit Daniels till now. Thanks to Gururaja KV who has authored this wonderful Guide of Frogs and Toads of Western Ghats I have a better and updated field guide to identify anurans.
Pictorial Guide to Frogs and Toads of the Western Ghats is written keeping in mind the researchers, school children, citizens and forest managers and tries to make them aware of frogs and toads found in the Western Ghats. The guide is structured on the basis of habitats of a species namely terrestrial (including burrowing), semi-aquatic/ terrestrial, aquatic and arboreal and are color coded. In each habitat, species are arranged alphabetically. Ecological status of species and endemism are also color coded. Pictograms for activity pattern, group size, relative size are given for quick reference. Distribution maps and habitat photographs provide valuable information on species locality. Text elaborates key features marked on the species with Peterson’s method. Information provided is very vast but concise – morphological features, key morphological features for measurements, skin texture, eye and pupil structure, vocal sac, schematic representation of snout webbing, finger and toe tips. Comparing a specimen in hand is another innovative technique employed which is very helpful in field observation. Abbreviations, glossary and reference, list of anurans in the Western Ghats are given. Good quality photographs are the best part of the book.
What is unusual about this field guide which differentiates most is the use of field marks. Ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson in 1934 devised his ‘Peterson system’ so that live birds could be identified readily at a distance by their ‘field marks’ without resorting to the bird-in-hand characters that the early collectors relied on. Using a scheme of arrows pointing to the key field marks of each bird, the ‘Peterson System’ removes much of the mystery and confusion of bird identification, especially among similar and confusing species. This in turn led to replacement of shotgun with the binocular and the spotting scope and contributed to emergence early environmental movement. Gururaja has devised a similar method for frogs and toads in his pictorial guide. Gururaja has also improved the ‘Peterson system’ by showing pointers to key characters visible on the photographs which are numbered and notes added to these numbers on the facing page.
This very useful guide for identifying frogs and toads of western ghats, covers 73 of the 156 species of frogs and toads with their color photographs. Each full page color photo is accompanied by its scientific name, common Name, general description, key features, status, coloration of each IUCN category, habitat, distribution map, highlighting features for identification and also size compared on our palm. As the size of the book is small and pocket sized st is very handy to carry to field. There is no doubt that this book will go a long way as one of the best pictorial field guide to Frogs and Toads of the Western Ghats and a must for both students and amateur naturalists and amphibian researchers.
Order your copy of Pictorial Guide to Frogs and Toads of the Western Ghats by Dr. K. V. Gururaja from shop.gubbilabs.in, as I did.