NERP TE Project 3.3 Targeted surveys for missing and critically endangered rainforest frogs in ecotonal areas, and assessment of whether populations are recovering from disease (JCU)

This project is conducting surveys of frogs and other vertebrates in ecotonal areas of the Wet Tropics and Eungella. The primary aims are to: (1) assess the current status, distribution and population size of missing and critically endangered frog species of the Wet Tropics and Eungella; (2) map the distribution and intensity of chytrid fungus disease across ecotonal areas; (3) survey these poorly known ecotonal areas for other vertebrates; and (4) provide recommendations for the management of endangered frogs and other threatened vertebrates, and work with land managers to carry out conservation actions. Ultimately this project will determine: 1. whether the ‘extinct’ frogs of the Wet Tropics and Eungella are really extinct, and what the status of the critically endangered and endagered species is, 2. whether the dry forest/rainforest ecotones of the western Wet Tropics and Eungella harbour overlooked populations of missing and endangered endangered frog species, and other vertebrates of interest, and 3. whether threatened frogs are recovering from chytrid disease.

Ten frog species disappeared from the upland rainforests of the Wet Tropics and Eungella during outbreaks of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A number of these frog species have been missing ever since, despite significant survey effort at historic sites, and some are feared extinct. Recent rediscovery of one of these ‘extinct’ species in a dry forest ecotonal area near the rainforest, suggets other missing frogs may well still be out there but have been overlooked because searches have focussed on rainforest and not the adjacent dry forest. We are conducting rigorous, targeted surveys for the missing, critically endangered and endangered rainforest frog species of the Wet Tropics and Eungella. These ecotonal areas have been poorly surveyed more boradly, so we are also surveying other vertebrates at these sites.

Principal Investigator
Hoskin, Conrad Dr School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University (JCU) conrad.hoskin@jcu.edu.au

Publications / Data