Recently Associate Professor Jean-Marc Hero from the Environmental Futures Centre, (Gold Coast campus of Griffith University) came to Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island recently to share his experiences with frogs of eastern Australia, and his intimate knowledge on global amphibian declines. September 2011… Read all about it…
Activities began with a seminar on Friday, September 16 discussing the global amphibian declines that have been reported over the past 30 years.
Over 200 species have been reported extinct (6 species in Australia) since 1979, and over 2,000 species have been reported as in decline. Frogs have been identified as the vertebrate group that is at the highest risk (have proportionally more threatened species than birds, mammals or reptiles).
The special presentation I held at the resort focused on known causes of decline (habitat loss, harvesting, introduced species etc.) and explanations for the enigmatic declines of stream-dwelling frogs in relatively undisturbed habitats (disease and climate change) that have been observed around the world.
Recent research has focused on the emerging pathogenic fungus which causes the disease chytridiomycosis and how this may work synergistically with climate change.
The next night began with a seminar focusing on the amazing biology of amphibians and how so many species co-exist on Fraser Island. Using sound recordings, he discussed ways of sharing acoustic space (only male frogs call to attract female) by using different frequencies.
Female frogs have hearing that is finely tuned into the specific frequency of male for the same species. Frogs also share ecosystems by utilising a range of breeding sites ranging from stream to ponds, with some species avoiding water entirely by laying their eggs in totally terrestrial environments.
In the coastal wallum habitats of mid-eastern Australia (and on large sandy islands including Fraser Island) there are a unique group of “acid frogs” which only breed in the highly acidic waters of these habitats.
Following the seminar participants went for a stroll around the ponds surrounding Kingfisher Bay Resort and practised their skills at identifying frogs by their calls. Despite the cool spring weather, we were lucky enough to see or hear the endemic Cooloola Sedge Frog (Litoria cooloolensis) and the Wallum Sedge Frog (Litoria olongburensis), two of the four Acid frog species found on the island. Visitors were amazed at how such tiny creatures could make such a loud call.