Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis (Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006o) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Frogs. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.3 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010h) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): July 2012)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2011.2)
Scientific name Litoria nannotis [1817]
Family Hylidae:Anura:Amphibia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Andersson,1916)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/tbiol/zoology/herp/mwt/nann.html

Scientific name: Litoria nannotis

Common name: Waterfall Frog, Torrent Tree Frog

The Waterfall Frog is olive to olive-green above though sometimes almost black. There is extensive, irregular mottling over the body, sometimes with a bluish metallic sheen on the flanks. There is often brown areas around the throat and the underparts are whitish. The axilla and groin area are flesh-coloured an dthe hind side of the thighs is dark brown. The skin is finely, granular with occassional small, scattered warts (Cogger 2000).

The Waterfall Frog is larger than other Torrent Treefrogs (Litoria lorica, L. rheocola and L. nyakalensis), and the body size of individuals varies geographically, with those from the Crabine Tablelands being larger than other specimens. Body size varies from 40 to 53 mm in most populations to 54 to 60 mm in the Crabine Tableland population (Cunningham 2002).

The Waterfall Frog has large fingers with basal webbing and large toe discs taht are nearly fully webbed. The second finger is longer than the first.The tympanum (ear disc) is distinct, and the species has a prominent inner metatarsal tubercle and a small outer tubercule (growths on inner and outer 'wrist' area). There is no pectoral fold (chin area) and vomerine teeth (upper mouth) are prominent (Cogger 2000).

The Waterfall Frog occurs throughout the Wet Tropics Bioregion, North Queensland, from Paluma to Cooktown (Hero & Fickling 1994), but only has stable populations at lowland sites (180-400 m) (Hero et al. 1998, 2002; McDonald & Alford 1999).

It historically occurred at sites at altitudes of up to 1300 m (McDonald 1992) and declines had been first noted in 1990 (Richards et al. 1993). It had apparently disappeared from most upland sites south of the Daintree River during summer surveys of 1991 to 1992. At the southern end of its range, it was last observed in Mount Spec State Forest in 1991 (Richards et al. 1993). In 1998 it was seen at several locations over 600 m on Mt Father Clancy (Hero et al. 2002). In 2013, there was an exciting rediscovery of upland sites (possibly near Spurgeon River) that may indicate recovery of populations that had become locally extinct from chytrid disease (Hoskin & Puschendorf 2013).

The Waterfall Frog is known from Cape Tribulation, Cedar Bay, Crater, Crater Lakes, Daintree, Lumholtz, Millstream, Paluma Range Wooroonooran National Park, Kirrama Range, Lamb Range, Maalan, Mt Baldy, Mt Lewis, Mt Spec, Tully, Windsor Tableland State Forest, Daintree Timber Reserve (165 Monkhouse) (Tyler 1997), Elizabeth Grant Falls, Millstream Falls, Mt Lee, Seaview Range National Park (Wallaman Falls, Sword Creek, Garrawalt Falls), Cardwell Range, and Ravenshoe State Forest (M.Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.). The species has been found during surveys of the Joyce and Worth Creeks at Bramston Beach, between Babinda and Innisfail in far North Queensland, approximately 70 km south of Cairns (EPBC 2008/4228). At the southern end of its range, adults occurred at Crystal Creek Stone Bridge (elevation 300 m) between January 1994 and September 1995 (Hero unpublished data). Lowland populations surveyed in Tully Gorge appeared to be relatively stable between 1995 and 1998 (Hero et al. 2002). In 2013, intensive, targeted surveys of the species "revealed many new populations" but no further information is available (Hoskin & Puschendorf 2013).

The extent of occurrence of the Waterfall Frog is approximately 9000 km² (Cunningham 2001 pers. comm.).

The Waterfall Frog includes three deeply divergent (genetically distinct) lineages, distributed from Paluma to the Tully River, the Tully River to Lamb Range, and Mount Lewis to Big Tableland (Schneider et al. 1998).

The Waterfall Frog occurs in Cedar Bay National Park, Crater Lakes National Park, Daintree National Park, Lumholtz National Park, Paluma Range National Park, Wooroonooran National Park, Mt Baldy State Forest, Mt Lewis Forest Reserve, Tully and Windsor Tableland State Forest, Daintree Timber Reserve (165 Monkhouse) (Tyler 1997), Elizabeth Grant Falls, Millstream Falls National Park, Seaview Range National Park (Wallaman Falls, Sword Creek, Garrawalt Falls), and Ravenshoe State Forest (M.Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.).

The Waterfall Frog is a stream dwelling species that is endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion (Hodgkison & Hero 2001; Williams & Hero 1998, 2001). It is restricted to rocky stream habitats in rainforest or wet sclerophyll forest where there is fast flowing water, waterfalls and cascades (Liem 1974; McDonald 1992).
Unlike most stream-breeding frog species that live in the adjacent forest and use the stream habitat for breeding, both male and female Waterfall Frogs use the stream as primary habitat throughout the year (Hodgkison & Hero 2001, 2002). Adults and juveniles sometimes form small aggregations (4-6 individuals) amongst large boulders behind waterfalls (Liem 1974; Hero 2001, pers. comm.). Tadpoles of the Waterfall Frog are predominantly found in fast flowing sections of streams, in riffles or torrents, adhering to rocks (Richards 1992).

Gravid female Waterfall Frogs and males with nuptial pads are encountered all year round (Martin & McDonald 1995), indicating that breeding can occur at any time of year. It breeds in streams (Hodgkison & Hero 2001). Unpigmented eggs (136-216 eggs of 1.98-3.4 mm diameter) are laid in gelatinous egg masses under rocks in water (Hero & Fickling 1996; Liem 1974).

The tadpole of the Waterfall Frog lives in fast-flowing water and is one of the few Australian species known to exhibit adaptations to torrent environments, such as a streamlined body shape, large suctorial mouthparts and a muscular tail (Liem 1974; Richards 1992).

The Waterfall Frog displays distinctly different nocturnal and diurnal behaviour. During the day, nearly all frogs are restricted to the stream environment, where they shelter in small refuges behind waterfalls or wedged between rocks in the stream. Waterfall Frogs occasionally bask in splash zones beside waterfalls (Hodgkison & Hero 2001).

At night, Waterfall Frogs are much more active. They are found in exposed positions within the stream, and some venture away from the water to forage in streamside vegetation. Waterfall Frogs do not move further than 15 m from the stream, and always return before dawn (Hodgkison & Hero 2001).

The methods that have successfully been used in the past to survey the Waterfall Frog are visual encounter surveys, call surveys and larval sampling (UC 2003).

As the known calling period of the Waterfall Frog is from January to December, call surveys can be conducted throughout the year (Liem 1974; Martin & McDonald 1995; Richards 1992).

The larval period of the Waterfall Frog is from January to December (Liem 1974; Martin & McDonald 1995; Richards 1992).

The reasons for the decline of the Waterfall Frog are unknown. Richards et al. (1993) reject drought, floods, habitat destruction or pollution by pesticides, inorganic ions or heavy metals as potential causes of decline.

The habitat of the Waterfall Frog in the Wet Tropics has been protected since 1988, therefore habitat destruction is no longer a threat (McDonald & Alford 1999). There has been repeated speculation that UV-B light has caused declines, but there is no evidence to support this and it is now considered unlikely as a hypothesis (NQTFRT 2001).

Current research is examining the possibility that disease, such as chytridiomycosis caused by the chytrid fungus or a viral infection, may have contributed to the decline of the Waterfall Frog (Berger et al. 1999), and there is considerable circumstantial evidence to support this hypothesis (NQTFRT 2001). The chytrid fungus has been identified in the Waterfall Frog (Speare & Berger 2000), and it has less effective natural defences (protective skin peptides) against chytrid fungus than other frog species in the same habitats that have not declined (Woodhams et al. 2006).

Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease affecting amphibians worldwide. The disease has been recorded in four regions of Australia, namely the east coast, south-west Western Australia, Adelaide, and more recently Tasmania. This highly virulent fungal pathogen of amphibians is capable at the minimum of causing sporadic deaths in some populations, and 100 per cent mortality in other populations (AGDEH 2006o).

Feral pigs are a potential cause of habitat damage around streams, and mortality of adult Waterfall Frogs (Richards et al. 1993). The activity of feral pigs increased over the period 1989-1992 in an area previously inhabited by the Waterfall Frog (Richards et al. 1993). There is very little research, however, into the impact of feral pigs on native frog populations (Richards et al. 1993).

A Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis has been developed, which aims to:

  • to prevent amphibian populations or regions that are currently chytridiomycosis-free from becoming infected by preventing further spread of the amphibian chytrid within Australia
  • to decrease the impact of infection with the amphibian chytrid fungus on populations that are currently infected.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Declines in populations of Australia's endemic tropical rainforest frogs. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:66-77. (Richards, S.J., K.R. McDonald & R.A. Alford, 1993) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Chytrid fungi and amphibian declines: overview, implications and future directions. In: Campbell, A., ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 23-33. (Berger, L., R. Speare & A. Hyatt, 1999) [Book].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Utility and Service Lines:Powerline easement maintenance and construction; mortality due to collision with powerlines Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].

Berger, L., R. Speare & A. Hyatt (1999). Chytrid fungi and amphibian declines: overview, implications and future directions. In: Campbell, A., ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 23-33. [Online]. Canberra: Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/frogs.html.

Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia - 6th edition. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland.

Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2006o). Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/chytrid.html.

Cunningham, M. (2001). Personal communication.

Cunningham, M. (2002). Identification and evolution of Australian Torrent Treefrogs (Anura:Hylidae:Litoria nannotis group). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 48(1):93-102.

EPBC 2008/4228 (2008). Cairns Water and Waste Bramston Beach Water and Sewerage Planning. Referral documentation. [Online]. Cairns, Queensland: GHD. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/epbc/epbc_ap.pl?name=current_referral_detail&proposal_id=4228.

Hero, J-M. (2001). Personal Communication.

Hero, J-M., H.B. Hines, E. Meyer, C. Morrison & C. Streatfeild (2002). New records of "declining" frogs in Queensland (April 1999). In: R. Nattrass, ed. Frogs in the Community - Proceedings of the Brisbane Conference 13 - 14 February 1999. Qld Museum.

Hero, J-M., H.B. Hines, E. Meyer, C. Morrison, C. Streatfeild & L. Roberts (1998). New records of "declining" frogs in Queensland, Australia. Froglog. 29-Jan:1-4.

Hero, J.-M & S. Fickling (1994). A Guide to the Stream-Dwelling Frogs of the Wet Tropics Rainforests. North Queensland: James Cook University.

Hero, J.-M. & S. Fickling (1996). Reproductive characteristics of female frogs from mesic habitats in Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 39:306.

Hodgkison, S.C. & J.-M. Hero (2001). Daily behaviour and microhabitat use of the Waterfall Frog, Litoria nannotis in Tully Gorge, Eastern Australia. Journal of Herpetology. 35:166-120.

Hodgkison, S.C. & J.-M. Hero (2002). Seasonal behaviour of Litoria nannotis, Litoria rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi in Tully Gorge, north Queensland, Australia. In: R. Nattrass, ed. Frogs in the Community - Proceedings of the Brisbane Conference 13-14 Feb 1999. Qld Museum.

Hodgkison, S.C. & J.-M. Hero (2003). Seasonal, sexual and ontogenetic variations in the diet of the declining frogs, Litoria nannotis, L. rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi. Wildlife Research. 30:345-354.

Hoskin C & R Puschendorf (2013). Project 3.3 - Targeted surveys for missing and critically endangered rainforest frogs in ecotonal areas, and assessment of whether populations are recovering from disease. June 2013 Milestone Report. National Environmnetal Research Program (NERP) Tropical Ecosystems Hub.

Liem, D.S. (1974). A review of the Litoria nannotis species group and a description of a new species of Litoria from north-east Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 17:151-168.

Martin, W.F. & McDonald, K.R. (1995). Draft Recovery Plan for the Threatened Stream-dwelling Frogs of the Wet Tropics. Qld Dept Env. & Heritage, Brisbane.

McDonald, K. & R. Alford (1999). A review of declining frogs in northern Queensland. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 14-22. Canberra: Environment Australia.

McDonald, K.R. (1992). Distribution patterns and conservation status of north Queensland rainforest frogs. Conservation Technical Report 1. Brisbane: Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.

Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT) (2001). Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004. [Online]. QPWS. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/rainforest-frogs/index.html.

Richards, S.J. (1992). The tadpole of the Australian frog Litoria nyakalensis (Anura: Hylidae), and a key to the torrent tadpoles of northern Queensland. Alytes. 10:99-103.

Richards, S.J., K.R. McDonald & R.A. Alford (1993). Declines in populations of Australia's endemic tropical rainforest frogs. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:66-77.

Schneider, C.J., M. Cunningham & C. Moritz (1998). The comparative phylogeography and the history of endemic vertebrates in the Wet Tropics rainforests of Australia. Molecular Ecology. 7:487-498.

Speare, R & L. Berger (2000). Chytridiomycosis in amphibians in Australia. [Online]. Townsville, Queensland: Rainforest CRC & School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University. Available from: http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/phtm/PHTM/frogs/chyspec.htm.

Tyler, M.J. (1997). The Action Plan for Australian Frogs. [Online]. Wildlife Australia. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/frogs/index.html.

University of Canberra (UC) - Applied Ecology Research Group (2003). Survey Standards for Australian Frogs. Canberra, Australia.

Williams, S.E. & J-M. Hero (1998). Rainforest frogs of the Australian Wet Tropics: guild classification and the ecological similarity of declining species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 265:597-602.

Williams, S.E. & J-M. Hero (2001). Multiple Determinants of Australian Tropical Frog Biodiversity. Biological Conservation. 98:1-10.

Woodhams, D.C., L.A. Rollins-Smith, C. Carey, L. Reinert, M.J. Tyler & R.A. Alford (2006). Population trends associated with skin peptide defenses against chytridiomycosis in Australian frogs. Oecologia. 146:531-540.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Litoria nannotis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 21 Apr 2014 23:27:49 +1000.