Building shared future for all life by supporting biological diversity

Peter Harrison inspecting coral reef at North Point off Lizard IslandDistinguished Professor Peter Harrison, pioneer of the Coral IVF technique, inspects the North Point coral reef at Lizard Island.

From discovering a new frog species or learning more about shy tropical dolphins, to improving the production of food crops like hempseed and coffee, Southern Cross University researchers are working alongside nature to ensure longevity and viability of plant and animal species.

Their stories of hope, innovation and collaboration underpin ‘Building a shared future for all life’, the theme of this year’s International Day of Biodiversity.

The UN-proclaimed day, held annually on May 22, is a chance to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. In explaining its theme for 2022, the UN says:

… biodiversity – from ecosystem-based approaches to climate and/or nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security and sustainable livelihoods – is the foundation upon which we can build back better.

Here are some of the ways the Southern Cross community is working together to tackle these challenges.

Discovering a new frog species and protecting its habitat

Philoria knowlesi mountainfrog

The new frog species Philoria knowlesi.

Researchers from Southern Cross University have helped uncover a new species of mountain frog in the rainforests at the NSW-QLD border, and are now working to protect its habitat.

Known as Philoria knowlesi, this new frog varies in colour and pattern and is confined to upland rainforests of Queensland’s Mount Barney National Park and Levers Plateau in Northern New South Wales.

Philoria knowlesi breeds in spring and early summer, in small bogs, seepages and banks of headwater streams. During mating season, the males create a small breeding chamber in wet areas and tadpoles develop entirely within this chamber.

The University’s frog expert, Dr David Newell, said the amphibian’s only known habitat – the Gondwana Rainforest of Australia World Heritage Area – had one of the most diverse ecosystems in Australia.

“This new species of frog belongs to a lineage only found in upland rainforest communities. There are currently seven known species of mountain frog, six of which are found only in the Gondwana rainforest area. Most are confined to the very headwaters of mountain streams and a key threat to their survival is climate change. As these habitats warm, these frogs literally will have nowhere else to go,” Dr Newell said.

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