Surveying for the Peppered Tree Frog, we rediscovered the Endangered Booroolong Frog on the Northern Tablelands of NSW.
Once common and widespread, The Booroolong Frog (Litoria booroongensis) has disappeared from much of its range across eastern Australia and is now listed as Endangered. The last time the species was reported from the New England Tablelands of northern NSW was over 40 years ago. However, during surveys in search of another missing frog, the Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata), we have now rediscovered Booroolong Frogs on the New England Tablelands! Our discovery is great news for the Booroolong Frog and provides hope for rediscovering other missing frog species.
Historically, the Booroolong Frog, a medium-sized, stream-breeding frog species, occurred from around 200 to 1300 m elevation along the Great Dividing Range from extreme northern NSW to northern Victoria. The species declined considerably in the 1980s, probably a result of infection by the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), habitat modification, stream flow alteration, and predation by introduced fish.
The Booroolong frog was once one of the most common frogs seen along streams on the New England Tablelands, but the last record of the species from the Tablelands was in 1975. Since then, no Booroolong Frogs have been reported from this vast area, despite many surveys. That is, until recently!
In October 2017, we were surveying streams in the New England Tablelands in search of another missing frog species- the Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata). The Peppered Tree Frog was only known from the New England Tablelands and hasn’t been seen at all since the 1970s. Surveying along a stream at night, documenting all the frog species we saw or heard, we came across a handful of brown frogs sitting on rocks in the middle of a stream. It was a species of frog that neither of us had ever seen on the Tablelands, but it was unmistakable. With large eyes, a rounded snout and skin with tiny bumps, we had discovered a population of Boorooolong Frogs- the first sighting of the species on the New England Tablelands in 42 years! The newly discovered population is over 130 km north of the nearest known populations of the species near Tamworth.
Frogs are in a lot of trouble globally, so it’s important to highlight the good news- and this is certainly good news for the Booroolong Frog. It’s also great news for the New England Tablelands community- they’ve not lost a frog species that was once extremely common, hopping around almost every stream! This finding also gives hope for rediscovering other missing frog species including the Peppered Tree Frog and Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castenea).
Dr Jodi Rowley, Curator, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology, AMRI & UNSW &
Timothy Cutajar, Honours student & Research Assistant, AMRI & UNSW.
- Rowley, J.J.L. & Cutajar, T.P. (2018) Rediscovery of the Booroolong Frog Litoria booroolongensis on the Australian New England Tablelands after more than 40 years. Herpetological Review. 49: 620-621.
Acknowledgements: We thank the New England Tablelands community for their support of our search for the Peppered Tree Frog, and to Northern Tablelands (Glen Innes) NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service office all the landholders for allowing us to survey their properties. We thank David Coote and David Hunter from the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, and all at the Northern Tablelands (Glen Innes) NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service office. The rediscovery of the Booroolong Frog on the New England Tablelands was made possible by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.