The Action Plan for Australian Frogs
Michael J. Tyler
with the assistance of the Editorial Advisory Committee
Wildlife Australia, April 1997
ISBN 0 642 21400 X
The massive decline in the world's frogs has received wide publicity in recent years. Localised declines had previously been noted but there was little awareness of a global phenomenon until 1989, when the First World Congress of Herpetology was held in Canterbury, England.
The decline in the world's frog fauna differs from that for other taxa in its dramatic and recent nature. Within the last 10 years frog species that were considered secure have become critically endangered or have disappeared altogether. A notable feature of these declines is that many of them are occurring in little disturbed rainforests, such as those of South America and North Queensland. The explanations still elude us, and the frogs are still disappearing.
It is possible that subtle factors operating in the environment may be responsible, but as yet there is no evidence to support any particular theory. Coordinated research and cooperation with other countries experiencing frog declines is essential if we are to reach an understanding of the causes and if effective management action is to be implemented. On the other hand, there are many species for which management action is urgently required. For some this has already started, and with the participation of local communities has resulted in increased security for the species. Where such action is possible, it must be started before it is too late.
One of the major impediments to generating a detailed action plan has been the paucity of knowledge of our frog fauna relative to that available for mammals and birds. This Action Plan details the status and actions required for those species for which there is adequate information but also highlights those areas requiring further survey, research and analysis.
The situation is anything but static. Since this Action Plan was commissioned in 1991, there have been frequent changes to the distribution and status of species. Two new species have been discovered while others seem to have totally disappeared from apparently undisturbed ecosystems. With this exceptionally rapid rate of change, the Action Plan will inevitably date quickly. It serves, therefore, as a summary of the situation at the time of publication, and offers guidelines for action to reverse the deplorable declines.