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Arnold Berliner Award 2020 goes to Frank Glaw

German herpetologist is honored for his work on the phenomenon of overseas dispersal by amphibians

Heidelberg | London, 17 August 2020

This year’s recipient of the Arnold Berliner Award is Frank Glaw of the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (Zoologische Staatssammlung München), who will be honored for his article published in Springer’s multidisciplinary journal, The Science of Nature. In his paper, Glaw and his team describe two new species of frog found in the Comoro Islands, which are in the Indian Ocean, north of Mozambique. The research also sheds further light on how amphibians, such as frogs, are able to disperse over ocean barriers -- a phenomenon which is usually uncommon because amphibians cannot tolerate saline water.

Glaw’s study provides evidence of two new species of frogs on the island of Mayotte in the Comoro Archipelago. Both species, (Blommersia transmarina sp. nov. and Boophis nauticus sp. nov.) can be distinguished from their closest relatives from Madagascar by a substantial genetic differentiation. Furthermore, morphological differences such as larger body size could be observed. The research revealed that these frogs are the only representatives of the family of frogs known as “Mantellidae” which are not endemic to Madagascar.

Frank Glaw has been the curator of the herpetology section at the Zoologische Staatssammlung München since 1997. He obtained his PhD at the University of Bonn in 1989, focusing on the herpetofauna of Madagascar during and after his thesis. Since the late 1980s, he has been working closely with Miguel Vences, professor for evolutionary biology and zoology at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, with whom he published A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar in 1992. Supported by the World Bank, this benchmark work on the amphibians and reptiles of Madagascar was translated into Malagasy and made freely available online. Glaw is a contributing author on over 200 descriptions of Madagascan taxa and several species have been named after him.

The Arnold Berliner Award was established in 2013 in recognition of the journal’s founding editor and is given to the principal author of an outstanding scholarly work published in The Science of Nature in the previous calendar year. Criteria for the Arnold Berliner Award are excellence in science, originality and, in particular, interdisciplinarity, which mirrors Berliner’s motivation for founding the journal in 1913. Berliner was editor-in-chief of the journal for an exceptionally long period of 22 years. His activities were influential and at the heart of academic life and society of his time.

Peer-reviewed and published in English, The Science of Nature is dedicated to the fast publication and global dissemination of high-quality research of interest to the broader community in the biological sciences. Papers from the chemical, geological, and physical sciences that contribute to questions of general biological significance can be considered for publication in the journal. The overall aim of The Science of Nature is to promote excellence in research and the exchange of ideas in the biological sciences and beyond.

Reference: Glaw, F., Hawlitschek, O., Glaw, K. & Vences, M. Integrative evidence confirms new endemic island frogs and transmarine dispersal of amphibians between Madagascar and Mayotte (Comoros archipelago). Sci Nat (2019) 106: 19. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-019-1618-9

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Elizabeth Hawkins | Springer Nature | Communications
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