Publications archive - Publications
Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.
Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.
Gregory J. Hollis
Environment Australia, October 1997
Note: This publication has been superseded by the National Recovery Plan for the Baw Baw Frog Philoria frosti
Critically Endangered (NRE 1997a); Endangered (Tyler 1997); Endangered (Wildlife Act 1975); Vulnerable (Schedule 1 of Endangered Species Protection Act 1992); Vulnerable (ANZECC 1995); Threatened (Schedule 1 of Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988); Threatened (SAC). The Baw Baw Frog population has declined by several orders of magnitude when compared to population size estimates recorded for the species over a decade ago. The current population size of adult males is estimated to be 1-2% of the 10,000-15,000 estimated to be on the Baw Baw Plateau in 1983 and 1984. The distribution of breeding individuals is now predominantly confined to topographically protected gully habitats at higher elevation (above 1300 m) and montane forest habitat at lower elevations (as low as 1080 m). This contrasts with the species former distribution which occurred over a much wider area on the Baw Baw Plateau in sub-alpine habitats. The Baw Baw Frog is considered to be vulnerable to extinction if the factors responsible for its decline continue to operate.
The Baw Baw Frog is restricted to a narrow set of ecological limits and possesses an unusual life history that is exhibited by very few amphibians. Breeding and non-breeding habitats are restricted to sub-alpine and montane vegetation communities that occur at elevations between 1080 and 1560 m, encompassing a small area of 80 km2 on the Baw Baw plateau. Breeding microhabitats are confined to natural cavities in or under dense vegetation, logs, soil or rock, that act as catchments for water traveling down slope. These occur predominantly along seepage lines within or at the periphery of sub-alpine wet heathland and in gullies. Non-breeding habitat consist of those used for breeding purposes as well as habitats away from and adjacent to breeding sites, including sub-alpine woodland and montane wet forest, where frogs shelter beneath dense vegetation, roots, logs, rocks and leaf litter. The sheltering sites sought by the species are moist and cool, and buffered against external weather extremes. Movement by adults during spring, summer and autumn is restricted predominantly to periods of wet, relatively warm weather associated with the arrival of rain-bearing frontal weather patterns.
Factors that limit the Baw Baw Frog are largely unknown. Those that change or modify habitat characteristics and requirements are a potential threat to the ecology and biology of Baw Baw Frog. These include environmental factors (e.g. long and short-term climate change, increased UV radiation) and anthropogenic factors (e.g. vegetation clearing/modification; timber harvesting; predation and habitat disturbance by introduced predators; introduced plants and air/water pollution). The factors responsible for the recent decline in the Baw Baw Frog population are currently unknown.
To achieve down-listing of the species from endangered within 10 years based on the IUCN (1994) criteria of population size and trends, extent of occurrence, and probability of extinction.
A Recovery Team, comprising representatives of NRE, Environment Australia, University of Melbourne, Latrobe University, Alpine Resorts Commission and other organisations as appropriate, will be formed (Action 3.13.1) to coordinate and supervise the following actions:
Over the past decade there have been numerous reports of amphibian declines and extinctions around the world, including species from Australia. The localities of a number of these Australian species are restricted to alpine, sub-alpine, montane and mountain-top environments in relatively pristine habitats. The factors contributing to the decline or disappearance of these amphibians remain largely unknown. With their biphasic life-history strategy, and skin that is permeable to both liquids and gases, amphibians are considered to be ideal organisms for measuring and monitoring environmental health. Research on, and monitoring of, the Baw Baw Frog (P. frosti) will help to identify, and provide the bases for ameliorating, the causal agents responsible for the decline of this unusual sub-alpine species, and contribute to efforts being made by other amphibian biologists to identify causes of declines in other 'mountain-top' amphibian taxa.