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 Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Stuttering Frog Mixophyes balbus (Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment (Vic. DSE), 2011g) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans 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 Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Stuttering Barred Frog -Profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005hs) [Internet].
NSW:Threatened Species Management Information Circular No.6 - Hygiene protocol for the control of disease in frogs (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2008b) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Predation by Gambusia holbrooki - The Plague Minnow (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2003i) [State Threat Abatement Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Vulnerable (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2011.2)
VIC: Listed as Critically Endangered (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013)
Scientific name Mixophyes balbus [1942]
Family Myobatrachidae:Anura:Amphibia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Straughan, 1968
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

Research is currently being undertaken to establish whether M. balbus may actually be two species - molecular genetic analysis based on mitochondrial DNA provides strong evidence that Mixophyes balbus comprises two separate species. One mitochondrial clade occurs from the upper Hunter River to northern NSW and the other ranging from Barrington Tops and Gloucester to the Illawarra. The two clades approach each between Dingo Tops State Forest and the Barrington Tops/Mt Royal Range region and potentially overlap in range through this region (Donnellan & Mahony 2009).

The Stuttering Frog is yellow-grey on its back with darker blotches. The frog grows to 80 mm. There is an irregular dark brown band (often broken into blotches) starting between the eyes and running down the back. A dark stripe on the head starts in front of the nostril and continues through the eye to the tympanum (tight membrane covering the entrance to the ear). The arms and legs have narrow dark bars and the upper part of the iris is pale blue. The belly is smooth and white or pale yellow. The skin on the back is finely granular. The toes are three-quarters webbed (Cogger 2000; Frogs Australia Network 2005c).

The Stuttering Frog is restricted to the eastern slopes of the Great Divide, from the Cann River catchment in far East Gippsland, Victoria, to tributaries of the Timbarra River near Drake, New South Wales. The species occurs over an altitudinal range of 20 to over 1400 m, generally lower in the south and higher in the north. The Stuttering Frog was formerly more frequently encountered in the northern part of its range than south of Sydney, although this may reflect limited historic searches in the region (Gillespie & Hines 1999).

The species has only been found in Victoria on three occasions (Tennyson Creek, Cann River and Jones Creek) and is now thought to be extinct in that state (Gillespie & Hines 1999).

The species has declined and disappeared from a number of locations in New South Wales where it was common (Anstis 1997; Anstis & Littlejohn 1996; Mahony 1993). Surveys in south-east New South Wales since 1990 have located individuals at only a few sites (Daly 1998; Lemckert et al. 1997). While actual estimates of population size are not available, where populations have been recorded recently, the species appears to be in low numbers (Mahony et al. 1997a). A population at Macquarie Pass National Park, discovered in 2000, peaked with 200-300 tadpoles in January 2005 and declined to 15 in September 2005 (Daly & Craven 2011). The population is now considered extinct, although a captive population was established sourced from tadpoles from the population (Daly & Craven 2011).

The extent of occurrence for the Stuttering Frog is approximately 110 000 km² (Mahony et al. 1997a).

The Stuttering Frog is known from the following National Parks and State Forests; Blue Mountains, Coopracambra, Dorrigo, Gibraltar, Morton, New England, Washpool and Werrikimbee National Parks, Bulahdelah, Carrai, Chaelundi, Dampier, Ellis, Forestlands, Hyland, Malara, Marengo, Mt Boss, Mumbulla, Myall River, Olney, Strickland, Watagan and Wild Cattle Creek State Forests (Tyler 1997), Junuy Junuum, Myall Lakes National Park, Awaba, Barrington Tops, Chichester, Doyles River, Giro, Heaton, Kerewong, Lorne, Middle Brother, Ourimbah, Styx River, Wang Wauk, Wyong State Forests (Lemckert 2001, pers. comm.), Ewingar, Girard, Malara, Moogem State Forests (McCray 2001, pers. comm.) and Macquarie Pass National Park (Daly 1998).

The Stuttering Frog is known from the following National Parks and State Forests; Blue Mountains, Coopracambra, Dorrigo, Gibraltar, Morton, New England, Washpool and Werrikimbee National Parks, Bulahdelah, Carrai, Chaelundi, Dampier, Ellis, Forestlands, Hyland, Malara, Marengo, Mt Boss, Mumbulla, Myall River, Olney, Strickland, Watagan and Wild Cattle Creek State Forests (Tyler 1997), Junuy Junuum, Myall Lakes National Park, Awaba, Barrington Tops, Chichester, Doyles River, Giro, Heaton, Kerewong, Lorne, Middle Brother, Ourimbah, Styx River, Wang Wauk, Wyong State Forests (Lemckert 2001, pers. comm.), Ewingar, Girard, Malara, Moogem State Forests (McCray 2001, pers. comm.) and Macquarie Pass National Park (Daly 1998).

The Stuttering Frog is typically found in association with permanent streams through temperate and sub-tropical rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest, rarely in dry open tableland riparian vegetation (Mahony et al. 1997), and also in moist gullies in dry forest (Gillespie & Hines 1999). The ecological requirements of adults and larvae are poorly known.

In north-east New South Wales, statistical modeling was used to investigate the relationship of the Stuttering Frog with 24 environmental predictors (NSW NPWS 1994 in Gillespie & Hines 1999). The species showed a preference for the interiors of large forest tracts in areas with relatively cool mean annual temperatures. These sites are typically free from any disturbance with a thick canopy and relatively simple understorey (Gillespie & Hines 1999). The species occurs along first order streams and is occasionally associated with springs. The species is not associated with ponds or ephemeral pools. Tadpoles do occur with several species of native fish (Mahony et al. 1997a).

The reproductive biology of the Stuttering Frog is very similar to that of Mixophyes fleayi (Gillespie & Hines 1999). Both species construct a nest in the shallow running water (in the gravel or leaf litter) that occurs between pools in relatively wide, flat sections of mountain streams (Knowles et al. 1998). Approximately 500 to 550 pigmented eggs (2.8 mm diameter) are deposited in a shallow excavation in the stream bed or pasted directly onto bed rock (Knowles et al. 1998; Knowles pers. comm in Daly 1998; Watson & Martin 1973). The eggs have a jelly layer and a sticky coating. Some eggs get mixed in with the leaf litter or gravel but most clump together (Frogs Australia Network 2005c). The stream microhabitats used by this species for oviposition are limited (Knowles et al. 1998). The free-swimming tadpole of the species has been described by Watson and Martin (1973) and Daly (1998). Tadpoles develop in pools and shallow water with the aquatic phase of the life cycle lasting approximately one year (Daly 1998).

On several occasions during rainfall events individuals have been found on roads (Mahony 1993; Lemckert & Morse 1999) at least 100 m away from the nearest waterbody suggesting that individuals move widely through the forest when moist conditions prevail (Lemckert & Morse 1999).

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

Gillespie (1997b) specifically suggests that surveys for the Stuttering Frog should be conducted using a combination of VES, night driving, call playback and larval sampling techniques. All surveys should be targeted to peak activity times and weather conditions, and repeated on at least three occasions.

VES for the Stuttering Frog should use 500 m transects along riparian habitat (Gillespie 1997b).

When night driving, 10 km transects are recommended for this species (Gillespie 1997b).

Call surveys should be conducted during the known calling period of the Stuttering Frog, between September and April (Gillespie 1997b; Mahony et al. 1997). Males call from beside streams often under leaf litter or in holes (Lemckert & Morse 1999). Call playbacks to detect this species should be conducted 100 m along the river edge (Gillespie 1997b).

The larval period of the Stuttering Frog is from January to May (Gillespie 1997b; Mahony et al. 1997). Tadpoles have been recorded in pools and shallow water (Daly 1998).

Several potentially threatening processes have operated upstream of, or at, sites where the Stuttering Frog was formerly found, but, as populations of this species have also disappeared in catchments with seemingly minimal disturbance, it is not clear how much influence these processes have had. Logging and associated forest management practices have been carried out in some catchments where the Stuttering Frog historically occurred or currently occurs. The health and stability of extant populations in these disturbed catchments is unknown. Upstream forest grazing and land clearance for pasture have also occurred in some catchments. The species is not known from any localities with disturbed riparian vegetation or significant human impacts upstream, which may indicate that the species is highly sensitive to perturbations in the environment (Mahony et al. 1997).

Recent studies of amphibian disease have identified a chytrid fungus as a cause of frog mortality and as the cause of death of frogs collected during declines (Berger et al. 1998; 1999). The role of chytrid fungus in the decline of the Stuttering Frog is unknown.

Chytridiomycosis, caused by the chytrid fungus, 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).

Trampling by domestic stock is likely to have deleterious impacts on oviposition sites of the species (Knowles et al. 1998). Tadpoles have been found in sympatry with native fish, and probably have survival strategies to avoid predation from them (Gillespie & Hines 1999). However, the impact of introduced fish, such as Eastern Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki), carp (Cyprinus spp.) and salmonids is unknown (Gillespie & Hines 1999). Mahony et al. (1997a) did not observe introduced fish at any sites where they found the Stuttering Frog. In other reports though, introduced fish (salmonids) have been recorded at sites where the species has declined (Anstis 1997). However, the Stuttering Frog has also disappeared from many streams which do not contain introduced fish species (Gillespie & Hines 1999).

A study of sedimentation on M. balbus tadpoles showed that, whilst the species can tolerate quite high levels of sedimentation and changes to water pH from sedimentation for short periods, long term exposure, such as in waterways that sustain high levels of traversing, can be detrimental to tadpoles (Green et al. 2004).

The Department of the Environment and Heritage has developed a threat abatement plan which aims to :

  • Prevent amphibian populations or regions that are currently chytridiomycosis-free from becoming infected by preventing further spread of the amphibian chytrid within Australia,

  • Decrease the impact of infection with the amphibian chytrid fungus on populations that are currently infected.

The Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis can be found at http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/chytrid/index.html

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
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Stuttering Barred Frog, Mixophyes balbus. In: H. Ehmann, ed. Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation. Page(s) 66-71. (Mahony, M., R. Knowles & L. Pattinson, 1997a) [Book].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Oviposition of the barred-frogs (Mixophyes species) in southeastern Australia with implications for management (Knowles, R., H.B. Hines, K. Thum, M. Mahony & M. Cunningham, 1998) [Proceedings].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities Stuttering Barred Frog, Mixophyes balbus. In: H. Ehmann, ed. Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation. Page(s) 66-71. (Mahony, M., R. Knowles & L. Pattinson, 1997a) [Book].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Gambusia holbrooki (Eastern Gambusia, Mosquitofish) The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Status of temperate riverine frogs in south-eastern Australia. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 109-130. (Gillespie, G.R. & H.B. Hines, 1999) [Book].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Status of temperate riverine frogs in south-eastern Australia. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 109-130. (Gillespie, G.R. & H.B. Hines, 1999) [Book].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
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].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Mixophyes balbus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ox) [Internet].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Mixophyes balbus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ox) [Internet].

Anstis, M. (1997). Glandular Frog, Litoria subglandulosa. In: H. Ehmann, ed. Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation. Page(s) 213-221. Frog & Tadpole Study Group of NSW, Sydney.

Anstis, M. & M.J. Littlejohn (1996). The breeding biology of Litoria subglandulosa and L. citropa (Anura: Hylidae), and a re-evaluation of their geographic distribution. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia. 120:83-99.

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.

Berger, L., R. Speare, P. Daszak, D.E. Green, A.A. Cunningham, C.L. Goggin, R. Slocombe, M.A. Ragan, A.D. Hyatt, K.R. McDonald, H.B. Hines, K.R. Lips, G. Marrantelli & H. Parkes (1998). Chytridiomycosis causes amphibian mortality associated with population declines in the rainforest of Australia and Central America. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. 95:9031-9036.

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.

Daly, G. (1998). Review of the status and assessment of the habitat of the stuttering frog Mixophyes balbus (Anura: Myobatrachidae) on the south coast of New South Wales. Herpetofauna. 28:2-11.

Donnellan, S. & M. Mahony (2009). Field collection and morphometric study of the frog Mixophyes balbus. Unpublished report.

Frogs Australia Network (2005c). Fact Sheet: Mixophyes balbus . [Online]. Available from: http://frogsaustralia.net.au/frogs/display.cfm?frog_id=47. [Accessed: 25-May-2006].

Gillespie, G.R. (1997b). Survey design and management prescriptions for the giant burrowing frog (Heleioporus australiacus) and the stuttering frog (Mixophyes balbus). Victoria: Wildlife Research, Arthur Rylah Institute, Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Gillespie, G.R. & H.B. Hines (1999). Status of temperate riverine frogs in south-eastern Australia. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 109-130. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Green, M., M.B. Thompson & F.L. Lemckert (2004). The effects of suspended sediments on the tadpoles of two stream-breeding and forest dwelling frogs, Mixophyes balbus and Heleioporus australiacus. Lunney, D., ed. Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna (second edition). Page(s) 713-720.

Knowles, R., H.B. Hines, K. Thum, M. Mahony & M. Cunningham (1998). Oviposition of the barred-frogs (Mixophyes species) in southeastern Australia with implications for management.

Lemckert, F. (2001). Personal Communication.

Lemckert, F. & R. Morse (1999). Frogs of the timber production forests of the Dorrigo escarpment in northern New South Wales: an inventory of species present and the conservation of threatened species. Page(s) 72-80. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Lemckert, F., M. Potter, B. Smith and T. Bruesl (1997). Recent Records of the Southern Barred Frog (Mixophyes balbus) from the South Coast. Herpetofauna. 27:43-45.

Mahony, M. (1993). The status of frogs in the Watagan mountains area the central coast of New South Wales. In: D. Lunney & D. Ayers, eds. Herpetology in Australia. Page(s) 257-264. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons.

Mahony, M., R. Knowles & L. Pattinson (1997a). Stuttering Barred Frog, Mixophyes balbus. In: H. Ehmann, ed. Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation. Page(s) 66-71. Frog & Tadpole Study Group of NSW, Sydney.

McCray, K. (2001). Personal Communication.

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

Watson, G.F. & A.A. Martin (1973). Life history, larval morphology and relationships of Australian Leptodactylid frogs. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia. 97:25-34.

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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). Mixophyes balbus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:32:25 +1000.