News

New hope for endangered spotted tree frog

By Jamie Salter

The population of the spotted tree frog is being monitored to ensure the ongoing survival of the critically endangered species.

Researchers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the University of Melbourne conducted field surveys across seven locations in north-east Victoria and found that bushfires, flooding and a fungal disease have significantly impacted the species population.

DELWP senior natural environment programs officer Glen Johnson said a captive breeding program led by Zoos Victoria may be needed.

“There is a real possibility that we will need to develop captive insurance populations, with increased resistance to the fungus, for potential longer-term reintroduction programs,” Mr Johnson said.

“Removing healthy frogs and breeding them in a controlled environment is the likely next step in the recovery strategy for the species.

“This research is incredibly important for the future of the spotted tree frog in Victoria.”

University of Melbourne research fellow Matt West said in addition to multiple fire impacts and the chytrid fungus, other threats to the species included introduced fish species.

“The surveys help us to better understand the combined impacts of fire, Chytridiomycosis and other threats on the species,” Mr West said.

“Chytridiomycosis, which is caused by amphibian chytrid fungus, infects the skin of frogs, causing damage to the keratin layer and can ultimately result in death.

“Bushfires can kill the frogs, but post-fire heavy rainfall which causes flash flooding, sediment and debris flows, can also severely impact on egg and tadpole recruitment and the frogs’ habitat.”

The Spotted Tree Frog Project forms part of the Victorian Government’s Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program, helping at-risk species impacted by last summer’s bushfires.

To view the distribution of the spotted tree frog, visit: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=25959