Michael J. Tyler
with the assistance of the Editorial Advisory Committee
Wildlife Australia, April 1997
ISBN 0 642 21400 X
- Recommendation 1:
- Recommendation 2:
- Recommendation 3:
- Recommendation 4:
- Recommendation 5:
- Recommendation 6:
- Recommendation 7:
- Recommendation 8:
- Recommendation 9:
Summary of the Problem
27 species (13%) of Australia's frog fauna are threatened, and of these, 8 species may have disappeared altogether. An additional 14 species give cause for concern. For most of these species, the causes of decline are not known or are poorly understood.
- That high priority be given to research and management action to address frog declines.
Causes of Decline
Frogs are known to be highly sensitive to aquatic pollutants (Tyler 1989, Bidwell and Gorrie 1995).
- That research be continued into the toxicity of pollutants, particularly herbicides and their dispersants. It is also recommended that low-toxicity surfactants be required, particularly for herbicide use near water bodies and drainage lines.
Many factors have been suggested as contributing to frog decline but there is currently little evidence to implicate any particular factors.
- That research and analysis be undertaken to clarify the possible contributing role of these factors, including data already available from Australian and international studies. Examples include: pathogens, local water quality, impacts of introduced fish (eg. Gambusia holbrooki, trout, carp), impacts of introduced terrestrial predators such as cats and foxes, subtle climatic changes and perturbations, and impacts of global changes to air and water quality.
Two geographic zones in particular show widespread patterns of decline:
- montane rainforest areas in Queensland,
- alpine and upland areas in south-eastern Australia.
- That attempts be made to determine if there are causal factors common to these declines and if any of these operate together, or even synergistically.
This Action Plan identifies 14 species for which information is inadequate to assign a conservation status, although it is recognised that there may be cause for concern for these species.
- That high priority be given to survey and research necessary to clarify the distribution, abundance and conservation status of insufficiently known species.
Many species declines have been recent and rapid, with apparent extinction of some species. Successful rearing and husbandry techniques need to be developed so that holding action can be taken in the event of a sudden decline of a species in the wild. Such captive populations may provide essential reservoir populations for later reintroductions.
- That priority be given to improve expertise in captive breeding and husbandry techniques. This should involve conservation agencies, researchers, zoos and amateur groups.
There is considerable interest amongst the general public in frog decline, and many amateur groups, such as the Frog and Tadpole Study Group (FATSG) in NSW and the Victorian Frog Group (VFG), are already contributing valuable information in terms of field surveys and biological information.
- That public involvement, particularly through amateur associations, be encouraged and incorporated into conservation assessment and recovery planning.
Documenting and Describing the Frog Fauna
Several frog species have been described only recently, demonstrating the paucity of knowledge of the Australian frog fauna.
- That an atlas of Australian frogs be developed and maintained, using existing and incoming data.
National Working Group for Frog Conservation
Although an Australian branch of the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force (DAPTF) of the Species Survival Commission was established in 1992, this is not functioning effectively.
- That a national working group for frog conservation be established to facilitate regular communication between frog experts. This group should link to the DAPTF as appropriate.
Bidwell, J.R. and Gorrie, J.R. 1995. Acute toxicity of a herbicide to selected frog species. Final Report. Prepared for Western Australian Department of Environmental Protection.
Czechura, G.V. and Ingram, G.J. 1990. Taudactylus diurnus and the case of the disappearing frogs. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 29(2): 361-365.
Mace, G.M. and Lande, R. 1991. Assessing extinction threats: towards a re-evaluation of IUCN threatened species categories. Conservation Biology 5: 148-157.
Moore, J.A. 1961. Frogs of eastern New South Wales. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 121: 149-386.
Osborne, W. 1996. Recovery Plan for the Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree). Unpublished Draft for NSW NPWS.
Pechmann, J.H.K. and Wilbur, H.M. 1994. Putting declining amphibian populations in perspective: natural fluctuations and human impacts. Herpetologica 50(1): 65-84.
Richards, S.J., McDonald, K.R. and Alford, R.A. 1993. Declines in populations of Australia's endemic tropical rainforest frogs. Pacific Conservation Biology 1: 66-77.
Roberts, J.D., Horwitz, P., Wardell-Johnson, G., Maxson, L.R. and Mahony, M.J. (in press). Taxonomy, relationships and conservation of a new genus and species of Myobatrachid frog from the high rainfall region of southwestern Australia. Copeia.
Rounsevell, D.E., Ziegeler, D., Brown, P.B., Davies, M. and Littlejohn, M.J. 1994. A new genus and species of frog (Anura: Leptodactylidae: Myobatrachinae from southern Tasmania. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 118(3): 171-185.
Tyler, M.J. 1979. Herpetofaunal relationships of South America with Australia. In The South American Herpetofauna: its origin, evolution and dispersal. Ed. W.E. Duellman. Monographs of the Museum of Natural History of The University of Kansas 7: 73-106.
Tyler, M.J. 1989. Australian Frogs. Viking O'Neil, Melbourne.
Tyler, M.J. 1994. Australian Frogs A Natural History (Revised Edition). Reed, Sydney.
Tyler, M.J. and Davies, M. 1985. The Gastric Brooding Frog. pp 469-470 in Biology of Australasian Frogs and Reptiles. Eds G. Grigg, R. Shine and H. Ehmann. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, and Surrey Beatty, Sydney.