Australian Green Tree Frog Disappears from Sydney Backyards
as an Army of Volunteers with Smartphones Help Identify Frogs in Peril….
Tens of Thousands around Australia sign up to Frog ID in first year of national citizen science program
Sydney, Wednesday 1 May, 2019: The findings from the first 12-months of the Australian Museum’s national citizen science project, FrogID, have been released today including data which shows the first evidence of the decline in Sydney of the iconic Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea).
For decades, frog biologists and nature-lovers have anecdotally noted the once common Green Tree Frog was disappearing from Sydney backyards. In the first 12 months of FrogID, of the 7000 frog call records received from the Greater Sydney area, only 52 of these were of the Green Tree Frog and none were from any of the inner Sydney suburbs which have historical records of the species.
“Due to FrogID and the thousands of people recording the calls of frogs across Sydney, we have enough data for the first compelling evidence of the disappearance of the Green Tree Frog from most of Sydney. The information we have gained, and continue to gain, will now help us understand the reasons for this loss and prevent the species declining even further,” Dr Jodi Rowley, Australian Museum Curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology said.
One of the most surprising results from the first year of the project has been the number of records of native frog species detected calling from well outside their known range, including the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog (Litoria fallax) found up to 400km from the known edge of the native range near the NSW/Victoria border.
“These ‘stowaway’ species are likely inadvertently hitchhiking to locations outside their range via produce and potted plants where they are establishing breeding populations, creating a likely ongoing issue, with these invasive frog populations having the potential to impact native frog populations,” Dr Rowley said.
The data collected in the first year of FrogID has also provided information on the breeding populations of 28 globally threatened and 13 nationally threatened frog species including the Black Mountain Boulder Frog (Cophixalus saxatilis) in QLD and the Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis) in SA, Tasmania, Victoria and NSW.
“The FrogID data on species that are poorly known, threatened or rarely documented has been a real success of the project, increasing our ability to make data-driven decisions for these rare species,” Dr Jodi Rowley said.
Frog ID has already engaged close to 100,000 registered volunteers and continues to attract hundreds of new frog call recordings each month, with the community of citizen scientists – or ‘froggers’ – across Australia growing daily, Australian Museum Director & CEO Kim McKay said.
“In a short time, FrogID has dramatically increased our understanding of the distribution, breeding seasons and habitats of this incredibly significant animal group, and we would like to thank the many thousands of people who have picked up their phones and literally helped put frogs on the map,” she said.
The findings from the first year of FrogID have been released today in Herpetological Conservation & Biology