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
Listing and Conservation Advices Approved Conservation Advice for Litoria verreauxii alpina (alpine tree frog) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014av) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
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:New South Wales Murray Biodiversity Management Plan (Murray Catchment Management Authority (Murray CMA), 2012) [State Action Plan].
NSW:Alpine Tree Frog - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2002h) [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:Alpine Tree Frog - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010e) [Internet].
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 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Critically Endangered (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
Scientific name Litoria verreauxii alpina [66669]
Family Hylidae:Anura:Amphibia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Dumuril, 1853)
Infraspecies author (Fry, 1915)
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.viridans.com/frogpics/htm/3907BPR1.HTM ;
http://www.viridans.com/frogpics/htm/3907CPR1.HTM

The Alpine Tree Frog is a subspecies of the broadly distributed Litoria verreauxii. The Alpine Tree Frog is distinguished by the presence of dorsal green or olive markings, extensive dorsal warting, and by its greater size than Litoria verreauxii (NSW SC 2002). Adult frogs grow 25 to 40 mm (ARC 2005).

Museum and field note records indicate that this subspecies was once widespread and abundant throughout much of the high country of south-east Australia. Recent searches have been conducted for the subspecies at 150 locations, including historical locations, throughout the Alpine National Park (Victoria), Kosciuszko National Park (New South Wales), Bimberi Nature Reserve (New South Wales) and Namadgi National Park (Australian Capital Territory) (Osborne et al. 1999).

The Alpine Tree Frog has been recorded at seven locations in New South Wales with most sites between 1200 m and 1500 m. No Alpine Tree Frogs were recorded from Baw Baw Plateau, Davies Plain, and Bogong High Plains in Victoria (Hunter & Osborne unpubl. data in Osborne et al. 1999). However, several small populations were encountered to the south-east of Mt Hotham and a more extensive population was recorded on the Dargo High Plains, all between 1300 and 1600 m. Surveys at numerous locations in the Bimberi Range (Australian Capital Territory) failed to locate this species and no tadpoles were observed (Osborne et al. 1999).

In New South Wales, the Alpine Tree Frog is currently known from two man-made ponds and five natural ponds, all within Kosciuszko National Park. Alpine Tree Frogs were last recorded at an alpine site in 1998 through identification of two calling males. Subsequent investigations have not been able to relocate the sub-species at this site (NSW SC 2002).

The extent of occurrence for this species is approximately 3500 km² (Osborne et al. 1999).

Populations of the Alpine Tree Frog have been recorded from Bogong, Alpine, Baw Baw, Kosciuszko, Namadgi National Parks and various State Forests in Victoria (Gillespie et al. 1995).

The Alpine Tree Frog occurs mainly in woodland, heath, grassland and herb field at montane, subalpine and alpine altitudes. Breeding populations occur on plains or open valleys where there are stream side pools, fens and bogs (Gillespie et al. 1995) but may also be associated with artificial waterbodies such as small dams and reservoirs (Osborne et al. 1999). During the non-breeding season individuals may be found amongst litter, under logs, beneath flat stones in stream beds or in rocky areas near streams (Gillespie et al. 1995).

The Alpine Tree Frog breeds in deep pools, which include fens, stream cut-offs, lakes and reservoirs (Hunter et al. 1998). Calling occurs from late winter to early summer (Hero et al. 1991). An average of 328 eggs (Hero unpublished) are laid in pools around submerged vegetation in large jelly-like clumps (Gillespie et al. 1995). Free-swimming larvae hatch within a few days and complete development in pools (Osborne et al. 1999). Tadpoles have been recorded from November to January and metamorphisis from December to January (Hunter et al. 1998).

The methods that have successfully been used in the past to survey the Alpine Tree Frog are visual encounter surveys, call surveys and egg mass surveys (UC 2003).

Call surveys should be conducted during the known calling period of the Alpine Tree Frog, between September and December (Green & Osborne 1994; Smith 1998).

Egg mass surveys may be effective as this species has clearly visible eggs. The larval period of the Alpine Tree Frog is from November to January (Green & Osborne 1994; Smith 1998). Male Alpine Tree Frogs call from vegetation at banks of pools or partially submerged in water. Tadpoles are also recorded in pools (Hunter et al. 1998).

The Alpine Tree Frog is one of a number of Australian alpine amphibian species, including, Pseudophryne corroboree, P. pengilleyi and Philoria frosti, which have experienced pronounced population declines for unknown reasons. There is no single aspect of the field biology of these species which stands out as a feature in common that may help explain the declines (Osborne et al. 1999).

The decline of the Alpine Tree Frog coincides with a recent global phenomenon of declining amphibians (Barinaga 1990; Blaustein & Wake 1990; Tyler 1991). Numerous hypotheses have been generated to explain these declines, but few as yet have been investigated thoroughly. Those that have, or are currently being investigated, include climate (Osborne 1990; Richards et al. 1993), ultraviolet radiation (Blaustein et al. 1994), atmospheric pollution (Bradford et al. 1994) and pathogens (Blaustein et al. 1994; Trenerry et al. 1994).

The UV-B hypothesis gained support from a recent study which found the Alpine Tree Frog to be more susceptible to ambient UV-B radiation than the Common Eastern Froglet, a species which does not appear to have declined. Therefore, increased exposure to UV radiation at high altitude, resulting from atmospheric ozone depletion, has been implicated as a likely contributing factor (Broomhall 2000). Species-specific differences in the impact of exposure to UV radiation on hatching success and development have also been demonstrated (Blaustein et al. 1995).

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 Alpine Tree Frog is not known.

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).

Stochastic (chance) events may lead to the extinction of the Alpine Tree Frog at the seven remaining breeding locations in the Kosciuszko National Park. The two man-made ponds are susceptible to pollution by run-off from nearby busy roads. The five natural ponds are subject to drying during drought years. Moreover, all breeding locations are vulnerable to trampling by feral horses and livestock. (NPWS SC 2002).

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:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements Acidic deposition as an unlikely cause for amphibian population declines in the Sierra Nevada, California. Conservation Biology. 69:155-161. (Bradford, D.F., M.S. Gordon, D.F. Johnson, R.D. Andrews & W.B. Jennings, 1994) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Equus caballus (Horse) 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].
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].
Litoria verreauxii alpina in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006no) [Internet].
Further evidence for the precipitous decline of endemic rainforest frogs in tropical Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:150-153. (Trenerry, M.P., W.F. Laurance & K.R. McDonald, 1994) [Journal].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Litoria verreauxii alpina in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006no) [Internet].

Amphibian Research Center (ARC) (2005). Verreaux's Tree Frog. [Online]. Available from: http://frogs.org.au/frogs. [Accessed: 25-May-2006].

Barinaga, P.H. (1990). Where have all the froggies gone?. Science. 247:1033-1034.

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.

Blaustein, A.R. & D.B. Wake (1990). Declining amphibian populations: a global phenomenon?. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 5:203-204.

Blaustein, A.R., P.D. Hoffman, D.G. Hokit, J.M. Kiesecker, S.C. Walls & J.B. Hays (1994). UV repair and resistance to solar UV-B in amphibian eggs: A link to population declines?. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. 91:1791-1795.

Bradford, D.F., M.S. Gordon, D.F. Johnson, R.D. Andrews & W.B. Jennings (1994). Acidic deposition as an unlikely cause for amphibian population declines in the Sierra Nevada, California. Conservation Biology. 69:155-161.

Broomhall, S.D., W.S. Osborne & R.B. Cunningham (2000). Comparative effects of ambient ultraviolet-B radiation on two sympatric species of Australian frogs. Conservation Biology. 14(2):420-427.

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.

Gillespie, G.R., W.S. Osborne & N.A. McElhinney (1995). The Conservation Status of Frogs in the Australian Alps: a Review. Report to Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Green, K. & W.S. Osborne (1994). Wildlife of the Australian snow-country: A comprehensive guide to alpine fauna. Chatswood, NSW, Reed Books.

Hero, J-M., M. Littlejohn & G. Marantelli (1991). Frogwatch Field Guide to Victorian Frogs. [Online]. Melbourne, Victoria: Department of Conservation and Environment. Available from: http://frogs.org.au/frogs/index.html.

Hunter, D.A., W.S. Osborne & M.J. Smith (1998). Distribution and abundance of the alpine tree frog (Litoria verreauxii alpina) in the Australian Alps National Parks. Report on the first seasons survey (1996-1997). Unpub. Report to NSW NPWS. Appl. Ecol. Res. Group, Uni. of Canberra.

NSW Scientific Committee (2002i). Final determination - Alpine Tree Frog. [Online]. Available from: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Alpine+tree+frog+-+endangered+species+listing.

Osborne, W., D. Hunter & G. Hollis (1999). Population declines and range contraction in Australian alpine frogs. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 145-157. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Osborne, W.S. (1990). Declining frog populations and extinctions in the Canberra region. Bogong. 11:4-7.

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.

Smith, M.J. (1998). Intraspecific variation in the advertisement call and morphology of Litoria verreauxii. BSc (hons) Thesis. Ph.D. Thesis. Canberra, The University of Canberra.

Trenerry, M.P., W.F. Laurance & K.R. McDonald (1994). Further evidence for the precipitous decline of endemic rainforest frogs in tropical Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:150-153.

Tyler, M.J. (1991). Declining amphibians - a global phenomenon? An Australian perspective. Alytes. 9:43-45.

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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 verreauxii alpina in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:39:04 +1000.