Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs
Edited by Alastair Campbell
Environment Australia, 1999
ISBN 0 642 54656 8
With over 200 species, Australia has one of the most diverse frog assemblages in the world. For many Australian frog species however the prognosis is grim. Dramatic population declines in some Australian frog species have been reported since the 1980s, some of the more serious crashes occurring in pristine habitats. Frustratingly the causal factors for many declines remain elusive.
In April 1997, Environment Australia published the Action Plan for Australian Frogs. This plan identified 27 Australian frog species at threat and a further 14 species that may be of concern but which were poorly understood. Recovery outlines, identifying those research and management actions required, were presented for the 27 species believed to be at most threat.
In May 1997, the National Threatened Frog Working Group recognised a need to bring together specialists in research, management and policy making to discuss their understanding of the continuing declines to our frog fauna and to prioritise future action for addressing the issue. As a result a two day 'National Threatened Frog Workshop' was held at the University of Canberra in November 1997 sponsored by Environment Australia, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the University of Canberra and the Worldwide Fund for Nature. The Workshop brought together some 80 people from throughout Australia and overseas involved in frog research, management and policy development and included representatives from government agencies, educational institutions and non-government organisations.
The purpose of the Workshop was to:
- provide an overview of the current status of knowledge about species which are declining;
- provide an overview of what's known about the decline and how it is being tackled;
- identify gaps in knowledge;
- recommend priorities for national effort for research, management and community attention;
- help set future priority actions for the Working Group; and
- establish on-going communication links between all participants and the wider community.
Following the Workshop the Working Group met and emphasised: the need to maintain a broad perspective and to continue monitoring and research on a range of possible causal factors; the need to support research into new areas - particularly disease as a potentially major factor influencing global declines; the need to support strategic research and to develop protocols to address this issue; and the need to support research on fluctuating asymmetry as a possible early warning tool for predicting declines. They also requested that the workshop proceedings be published; that a brochure on declining frogs be prepared; that a web site to provide up to date information about declining frog issues be established and that a national but restricted internet discussion group on frogs should be established.
I am pleased to observe that the majority of these initiatives, along with the implementation of the recommendations of the Action Plan for Australian Frogs, are in hand and continue to be supported by a wide range of sponsor organisations. In particular, a number of important projects are supported through the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust.
The agreement by Environment Australia to publish the proceedings of that workshop has led to the development of this set of 20 papers. It includes regional overviews of the status of threatened frog species, summaries of current research efforts, and much discussion on the technical tools and priorities for action. The papers presented here represent the dedicated work of some 34 authors, many of whom have observed drastic population crashes first hand. I would like to express my thanks for their efforts and patience. I would also like to thank the following 33 referees for kindly agreeing to review the papers presented here - Will Osborne,Tim Halliday, Ray Nias, Marg Davies, Steve Richards, Arthur White, Grahame Pyke, Dale Roberts, Graeme Watson, Murray Littlejohn, Michael Mahony, Grant Wardell- Johnson, Andrew Burbidge, Gordon Grigg, Bruce Waldman, Mike Tyler, Roy Swain, Harry Hines, Aurel Moise, Bill Buttermeir, Bruce Male, Geoff Larmour, Chris Banks, Hal Cogger,Tony Robinson, Stan Orchard, Gerry Marantelli, Harald Ehmann, Don Driscoll, Keith McDonald, Ann Jelinek, Simon Conroy, and Michael Scroggie.
I believe this symposium makes an extremely valuable contribution to our knowledge of our threatened frog fauna. While the recovery of threatened frogs and the search for our missing frog species continues to be highly problematic it remains a work of the highest priority.
Alastair Campbell, Environment Australia