Funding fight for frog survival
HE’S called the Armoured Mist Frog but apparently the armour isn’t quite enough, as his precarious existence threatens to get a whole lot worse unless there’s help soon.
The deadly Chytrid Fungus has wiped out six frog species since it reached Australia in 1978, with another seven in imminent danger, including our Armoured Tree Frog.
He’s ‘‘ our’’ Armoured Tree Frog because L. Iorica is only found in the Wet Tropics of Australia, specifically in four localities where there are fast- flowing creeks and streams in rainforests: Alexandra Creek, Hilda Creek (Cape Tribulation NP), Roaring Meg Cascades, and Mossman Bluff Creek (Daintree NP) – at between 640 metres and 1000 metres in altitude.
The Armoured Tree Frog, first identified in 1976, was once thriving, but the fungus which began to attack the population in the late ‘70s is thought to be the main reason for a collapse in its numbers.
The situation now is so bad that the Armoured Tree Frog is on the endangered species list. It is only two stops away on the chart from being officially extinct.
The Armoured Tree Frog has already disappeared from view once in modern times – it wasn’t spotted from 1991 all the way to 2008.
Scientists fear seven critically threatened frog species will become extinct within the next decade unless vital research funding is secured.
James Cook University senior research fellow Dr Lee Skerratt has been closely following the plight of the seven threatened species as numbers continue to rapidly decline.
Dr Skerratt said the future of the critically endangered species could be secured with a relatively modest increase in funding towards research and disease management.
‘‘ With a research and management program costing about $15 million over five years, we believe we can save these frogs from extinction,’’ he said.
‘‘With a $1 trillion dollar annual economy, Australians should be able to afford spending this relatively small amount of cash to save our frogs.’’
Two o f the seven species at risk live in Queensland – and the Armoured Mist Frog from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in North Queensland.
The six other species at risk are: the Kroombit Tinker Frog from Kroombit Tops National Park, the Southern Corroboree Frog of Mt Kosciuszko National Park; the Northern Corroboree Frog of Mt Kosciuszko National Park and adjacent national and state parks; the Baw Baw Frog of Mt Baw Baw National Park; the Spotted Tree Frog from the Victorian Alps; and the Tasmanian Tree Frog from the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.
Dr Skerratt said scientists had identified new research required such as enhancing natural selection against the fungus, as offering the best chance for t h e seven c r i t i c a l l y endangered frogs to survive.
‘‘Like a lot of these sorts of situations, the real problem is trying to obtain longterm funding,’’ he said.
‘‘It has been 16 years since disease was recognised as the cause of frog declines, but these types of problems are not easily solved.
‘‘ You also have to remember that financial resources for wildlife disease are on a much smaller scale."
Nick Clemann from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research in Victoria said time was running out.
‘‘There are no second chances when you’re talking about extinction,’’ he said.
Litoria Lorica and Litoria Nannotis