National recovery plan for Stream Frogs of South-east Queensland 2001-2005

Prepared by Harry Hines
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
and the South-east Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team, 2002

Appendix 1. Species Profiles


New England Tree frog Litoria subglandulosa Tyler and Anstis 1975

The taxonomy of Litoria subglandulosa has recently been reviewed (Mahony et al. 2001). This profile is concerned with Litoria subglandulosa sensu stricto unless otherwise stated.

Description

A medium sized frog, males up to 40mm snout-vent length, females to 50mm. Dorsal surface is predominantly green with beige and or gold patches and scattered darker mottling. A narrow stripe (gold or beige in colour) runs from the nostril back through the eye, over the tympanum and down the flanks. Below this stripe runs a broad, dark stripe extending to, and encompassing the flanks. The dorsum is smooth. The groin and posterior thighs are translucent yellow in colour. The upper lip is white and the tympanum is the same shade of green as the surrounding skin. The tips of fingers and toes have distinct disc-like pads. The toes are almost fully webbed and the fingers have no trace of webbing. (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996, Mahony et al. 2001, Tyler and Anstis 1975)

Call

The call is a series of moderately low-pitched notes 'orak-orak-orak...', and varies in speed, accelerating at first then slowing after climax. Diurnal calling is common during the breeding season (October-November), with males typically calling from under rocks and crevices and from within vegetation. At night males usually call from perched positions on trees and shrubs approximately 0.5-1.5m above streams. (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996)

Reproduction

Reproductive activity occurs in late spring (October-November). Amplexus is axillary, egg masses are laid in streams and attached to the surface of submerged branches or rocks, just below water level. Egg masses are compact in form and highly adherent to suit lotic environments. Tadpoles are found in shallow, slowly moving sections of the stream on sand and submerged rocks or leaf litter. They probably feed on flocculant silt and algae. (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996).

Tadpoles

Tadpoles of this species and the closely related Litoria daviesae are highly distinctive from all other species of Litoria - the mouth is surrounded by long papillae and lacks teeth and the horny beak. The mouth is sub-terminal and funnel shaped. Maximum length of tadpoles is about 35mm. They are deep-bodied, ovoid with a well rounded snout. The eyes are positioned dorsolaterally. The dorsal surface is dark brown to yellow brown, darkest over the braincase and intestinal mass. The tail is twice as long as the body, and the musculature is light brown in colour with irregular markings. The fins are transparent with irregular dark markings. (Tyler and Anstis 1975, E. Meyer unpublished data).

Habitat

Lives along streams in upland areas (altitude range of 500-1400m) in a range of habitats, usually associated with dense overhanging vegetation. Populations usually inhabit streams that are slow-flowing, with sections of permanent pools, and surrounded by dry and wet sclerophyll forest, rainforest, montane forest and heathland. Also recorded from areas disturbed by grazing. (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996, Gillespie and Hines 1999).

Distribution

Known from the eastern fall of the Great Divide from The Flags south of Walcha, New South Wales (approximately 31° 20´S, 151° 32´E), to Girraween National Park near Stanthorpe, Queensland (28° 40´20²S, 151° 40´30²E) (Figure 7) (Gillespie and Hines 1999, Mahony et al. 2001).

Figure 7. Distribution of New England tree frog
Figure 7. Distribution of New England tree frog Litoria subglandulosa sensu stricto.

Current distribution

Knowledge of the historical distribution of L. subglandulosa is limited. Prior to 1975, it was known only from three localities (Tyler and Anstis 1975), and few other localities were reported until the 1990s (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996). Consequently, there is a limited historical base for assessment of population declines and indicates the need for comprehensive studies to determine population trends across the distribution of the species. Litoria subglandulosa may have disappeared or suffered a drastic decline in three streams near Point Lookout (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996, Anstis 1997) and other streams that originate from the New England Tablelands (Mahony et al. 2001). It also appears that L. subglandulosa has disappeared from a stream in Girraween National Park in Queensland, although it is now known from other streams in the park (QPWS unpublished data).

Threats

There are several potential causes of population declines of L. subglandulosa, including modification of the riparian zone due to forestry, agricultural and grazing activities. Introduced trout also occur in several streams where this species has declined, and may be preying on its tadpoles. (Gillespie and Hines 1999, Mahony et al. 2001)

Conservation status

Most assessments of the conservation status of this taxon were made prior to it being split into two species by Mahony et al. (2001). Litoria subglandulosa sensu lato is currently listed as Vulnerable in Queensland, Insufficiently Known in the Action Plan, but is not listed nationally. It meets IUCN (2001) criteria for Near Threatened.

Mahony et al. (2001) assessed the status of Litoria subglandulosa sensu stricto and categorised it as vulnerable. In Queensland it is known only from Girraween National Park.