tree frog
November 10, 2015 Amphibians No Comments

The numbers

Graceful treefrog Photo © Ed Meyer

Graceful treefrog
Photo © Ed Meyer

Queensland has 132 species of frog[1], more than any other Australian state.

The wet coastal areas between Cooktown and the Queensland/New South Wales border – the area with the most rapidly expanding population in Australia – contain 75 per cent of all Queensland frog species. Development in this area causes frog habitat loss and degradation.

In this coastal region, 48 per cent of Queensland’s frog species live below 100m altitude. They are the species most threatened by habitat loss and degradation.

Currently, 13 Queensland frog species are listed as endangered and 19 are vulnerable to extinction. Three frog species have been listed as extinct in the wild since 2007.

The threats

1. Habitat loss

Frogs need native vegetation but they are losing their habitat through:

  • Land clearing and urbanisation for housing, industry and associated infrastructure, especially in coastal south-east Queensland.
  • Intensive agriculture, especially around the coastal lowlands of the Mackay area and the wet tropics.
  • Clearing for pine plantations and sand mining.

These Queensland frog species are listed as vulnerable (V) or endangered (E):

  • Australian lacelid (Nyctimystes dayi) (E)
  • Beautiful nurseryfrog (Cophixalus concinnus) (V)
  • Bellenden Ker nurseryfrog (Cophixalus neglectus) (V)
  • Black Mountain boulderfrog (Cophixalus saxatilis) (V)
  • Cape Melville boulderfrog (Cophixalus zweifeli) (V)
  • Cape York nurseryfrog (Cophixalus peninsularis) (V)
  • Cascade treefrog (Litoria pearsoniana) (V)
  • Common mistfrog (Litoria rheocola) (E)
  • Dainty nurseryfrog (Cophixalus exiguus) (V)
  • Eungella dayfrog (Taudactylus eungellensis) (E)
  • Fleay’s barred frog (Mixophyes fleayi) (E)
  • Giant barred frog (Mixophyes iteratus) (E)
  • Kroombit tinkerfrog (Taudactylus pleione) (E)
  • Kroombit treefrog (Litoria kroombitensis) (E)
  • Kuranda treefrog (Litoria myola) (E)
  • Little waterfall frog (Litoria lorica) (E)
  • Magnificent broodfrog (Pseudophryne covacevichae) (V)
  • Melville range treefrog (Litoria andiirrmalin) (V)
  • Mount Elliot nurseryfrog (Cophixalus mcdonaldi) (V)
  • Mountain nurseryfrog (Cophixalus monticola) (V)
  • New England treefrog (Litoria subglandulosa) (V)
  • Mountain mistfrog (Litoria nyakalensis) (E)
  • Northern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus) (E)
  • Northern nurseryfrog (Cophixalus crepitans) (V)
  • Northern tinkerfrog (Taudactylus rheophilus) (E)
  • Red-and-yellow mountainfrog (Kyarranus kundagungan) (V)
  • Tapping green eyed frog (Litoria serrata) (V)
  • Tusked frog (Adelotus brevis) (V)
  • Wallum froglet (Crinia tinnula) (V)
  • Wallum rocketfrog (Litoria freycineti) (V)
  • Wallum sedgefrog (Litoria olongburensis) (V)
  • Waterfall frog (Litoria nannotis) (E)

Probably gone – These two Queensland frog species listed as endangered are probably extinct:

  • Northern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus)
    – last seen 1985
  • Mountain mistfrog (Litoria nyakalensis)
    – last seen 1990

Gone – These three Queensland frog species are listed as extinct in the wild:

  • Sharp snouted dayfrog (Taudactylus acutirostris)
    – last seen 1996
  • Southern dayfrog (Taudactylus diurnus)
    – last seen 1979
  • Southern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus silus)
    – last seen in the wild in 1981
2. Habitat degradation

Frogs and tadpoles need clean water to breed and grow. Water bodies are becoming less suitable for frogs because:

  • Pollution, including nutrients, runs off from lawns, gardens and agriculture.
  • Pesticides, especially in urban areas, are toxic to frogs.
  • Weeds from agriculture are taking over frog-friendly wet forests and altering water chemistry.
  • Changes in stream and wetland hydrology make wetlands unsuitable for frog breeding.
  • Development is disturbing acid sulphate soils, which upsets the water’s pH balance.
3. Global warming

Reduced rainfall and increased temperatures will affect frog species, for example, the Bellenden Ker nurseryfrog only lives on cool mountaintops.

Rising sea levels might affect frogs in coastal areas, for example, the wallum sedgefrog lives only in south-east Queensland’s coastal sandy lowlands.

4. Disease

An introduced fungal disease is killing upland rainforest frogs as well as affecting more common species like the green tree frog.

Other exotic diseases will threaten frogs unless we exclude them from Australia.

5. Exotic fish

Mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki), introduced to control mosquito larvae, eat frogspawn and tadpoles.

Aquarium fish and other exotics are a threat to frogs if released into the wild.

What you can do

  • Conserve frog habitats along streams, gullies and rivers.
  • Conserve wetlands, especially seasonally flooded areas and ephemeral wetlands – such as melaleuca swamps.
  • Never let soaps, detergents or pesticides flow into stormwater drains or waterways.
  • Create frog-friendly gardens by encouraging naturally occurring trees, shrubs and ground covers. Check out this beautiful, easy to create frog hotel.
  • Lobby local and state governments to value and protect native vegetation, particularly creekside and low-lying areas.
  • Lobby local and state governments to control development including managing stormwater runoff and retaining native vegetation.
  • Reduce your own greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
  • Reduce the spread of disease among amphibian populations by not moving frogs and tadpoles from one place to another.
  • Prevent the spread of exotic and aquarium fish into waterways.

Find out more

 


References

  1. According to the Australian Museum FrogID app (https://www.frogid.net.au/), there are 132 frog species listed as occurring in Queensland.

 

Written by Wildlifeqld