New eDNA research from the Morrison Government’s National Environmental Science Program (NESP) could play an important role in addressing a global challenge of disappearing frog populations.
A study conducted by James Cook University researchers through the NESP Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub, published today, details how eDNA technology can be used to track endangered frogs up to 20 kilometres from their home in the North Queensland Wet Tropics.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that the findings were an important breakthrough at a time when national programs are being conducted to monitor declining frog populations.
“Frogs can be incredibly hard to track with searches often taking place at night in remote and mountainous terrain, using head torches to spot the frogs from eye-shine,” Minister Ley said.
“The research team was able to successfully detect frog eDNA in small bottles of unfiltered water samples taken back to the laboratory.
“The study suggests eDNA detected in samples taken from bodies of water can now be used to find ‘missing’ populations of frogs in hard-to-reach places, where traditional methods may not have worked.
“The results of the study will support ongoing efforts to ensure remote, tropical rainforests remain a haven for frog species, and provide a fantastic first step in the wider protection of critically endangered frogs.
“It is another example of the importance of the Morrison Government’s National Environmental Science Program which in its second, $149 million phase has an emphasis on climate adaptation, threatened species, protected places and waste impacts.”
eDNA is any trace of DNA animals leave in the environment, such as in their skin cells, urine, blood, saliva, faeces and other secretions.
NESP is a long-term commitment from the Australian Government to fund environment and climate research.