Research into endangered North Coast frogs gets govt funding

Fley’s Barred Frog. Photo Dave Newell

The future for two endangered frog species in our region is looking brighter, with just under $150,000 allocated for conservation projects for the Fleay’s Barred Frog and the Richmond Range Mountain Frog.

The funding was announced by Lismore MP Thomas George (Nationals) and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton (Liberal) last week.

Dr David Newell from Southern Cross University will be working alongside the Office of Environment and Heritage to deliver these projects.

Dr Newell told Echonetdaily the funding for additional research was very important because the two species are ‘naturally rare’.

Fleay’s Barred Frog is a large, stream breeding species that has been decimated by the amphibian chytrid fungus, however some populations now appear to be recovering.

‘This project will see us tag and recapture individual frogs over time to assess the presence of the fungus each time they are recaptured,’ Dr Newell said.

Richmond Range Mountain frog. Photo Dave Newell

Recording technology

‘The Richmond Range Mountain Frog lives in burrows and can be difficult to detect. We will therefore use technology to record and analyse sound recordings to understand their calling behaviour and habitat requirements,’ he added.

‘We record 10 minutes of sound every hour at known locations using Automated Recording Devices and analyse the recordings back in the lab to better understand their habitat requirements (log temperature and humidity).

‘We use software to ‘listen’ for the calls based on frequency and patterns and we are able to analyse thousands of hours of recordings from throughout the year using this approach.

This is very exciting because it is a new technique for monitoring one of our region’s rarest species.

‘They breed in the very headwaters of rainforest streams and rely on the thermal properties of these sites (temperature and moisture profiles ) for survival. As such they are very susceptible to climate change.

‘When you live on a mountain top you are effectively isolated on sky islands. When climate changes there is no way you can move further up the hill and these species are not very mobile so they can’t just change mountains,’ Dr Newell said.

How you can help

People can help frogs in a variety of ways. You can assist a range of frogs locally by creating frog friendly habitats in your garden and may even assist science by recording frog calls with your smart phone and logging them with the Australian Museums Frog ID app. You can also assist by being very mindful of hygene and trampling when entering rainforest streams locally – scrub boots and don’t stack rocks in streams!

The NSW Government has invested $100 million over five years in the Saving Our Species program which aims to secure as many threatened species as possible in the wild for the next 100 years.


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