DU researcher discovers over 50 species of frogs


NEW DELHI: A Delhi University scientist becomes India’s first woman researcher to discover 50 new frog species. She has been awarded the E O Wilson Biodiversity fellowship to work at Harvard University and continue the quest to unravel earth’s biodiversity. Dr Sonali Garg from the department of environmental studies, DU will now work at the Museum of Comparative Zoology in affiliation with the department of organismic and evolutionary biology.

The leading lady frog researcher Garg is a familiar name for frog researchers. She has formally described 50 new species of frogs – the first Indian woman to achieve this distinction.

The Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) was founded in 1859 and is a centre for research and education focused on the comparative relationships of animal life. Through this fellowship, Garg will further her quest for the discovery of earth’s animal species.

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“An E O Wilson Biodiversity Fellowship at Harvard is such an honourable recognition for my work. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn and expand my research on unraveling the wonderful amphibian diversity,” said Garg.

Garg took her PhD from the department of environmental studies under the mentorship of Frogman of India, professor S D Biju. She continued to work here as a research associate sponsored by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Government of India.

“The greatest recognition for a mentor is the success of their students. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see my students excel and grow bigger. I am sure Dr Sonali will go on to make many more scientific contributions to global biodiversity research,” said Biju.

Garg has studied frogs across India and outside India. Her extensive field expeditions have carried her into remote forests of the Western Ghats, Northeast India, and Andaman and Nicobar islands. Outside India, her scientific forays extended into Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. A discovery from Indonesia is of one of the smallest frogs found there.

As a young herpetologist, Garg has already made significant contributions to Indian amphibian research and conservation. She was conferred with the J C Daniel Young Conservation Leader Award by Bombay Natural History Society in 2019. Her scientific findings have received attention in over 100 popular articles covered by noted national and international media platforms including the National Geographic and Scientific American.

Sonali’s outstanding discoveries include a new genus and species of Mysterious frog, seven new species of miniature frogs, four new species of Burrowing Frogs, and a new species recently named for professor Deepak Pental, the former vice-chancellor of DU. Apart from new species, Garg has described three new genera and resolved numerous century-old taxonomic puzzles. Her research largely focuses on unraveling the unique diversity of frogs, study of their evolutionary relationships using DNA, and biogeography to decipher patterns of historical and present-day distributions.




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