Tasmanian frogs

​Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment

Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 11 February.

Applicant: Australian Museum Research Institute

Species/Taxon: Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingii); Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii); Tasmanian Smooth Froglet (Geocrinia laevis)

Location: Various locations across Tasmania including crown land and private property with landholder permission only (no National Parks)

Title of research: Integrative taxonomic assessment of Tasmanian frog species

Aim of project:
Through this study, we aim to improve our understanding of the true species diversity, distributions and conservation status of Australia’s frogs. In Tasmania we are focusing on three abundant and widespread frog species believed to contain undocumented species or genetic diversity, including the Banjo Frogs (Limnodynastes dumerilii), Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingii) and Tasmanian Smooth Froglets (Geocrinia laevis).

Justification:
In Australia, our understanding of the species diversity of frogs remains incomplete, with more than 10% of Australia’s frog species described since 2000 and many more species awaiting scientific description. A major obstacle to uncovering the true species diversity of frogs in Australia is the morphologically conserved nature of many frog groups. Increasingly, we are realising that our current understanding of frog species boundaries, based primarily on morphology, is insufficient. Many frog species are now understood to be largely or completely indistinguishable using morphological characters alone, and that the incorporation of molecular and acoustic data is necessary to accurately delineate frog species in Australia. At present, a very small number of Tasmanian frog specimens, genetic samples and associated call recordings are available for study, hindering research and accurate taxonomic assessments. This study will provide the research material necessary to study species diversity, as well as help to build the amphibian collections at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, which currently have limited research material of frogs available, particularly tissues for genetic analysis. Information gained from this project will provide a benchmark for accurate species identification in Tasmania which is vital to informing land use planning and conservation prioritisation. Most frog species are highly sensitive to environmental change, and many of the focal species live in regions of Australia undergoing intensive human modification, making an accurate understanding of their diversity and conservation status a priority.

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved:
Brown Tree Frog – calls recorded of up to 5 individuals per site (maximum 60 individuals in total), no more than 2 individuals collected per location (maximum of 30 individuals in total); Eastern Banjo Frog – calls recorded of up to 5 individuals per site (maximum 60 individuals in total), no more than 2 individuals collected per location (maximum of 30 individuals in total); Tasmanian Smooth Froglet – calls recorded of up to 5 individuals per site (maximum 60 individuals in total), no more than 2 individuals collected per location (maximum of 30 individuals in total). This is the minimum estimated number to understand the diversity of each frog species across their range in Tasmania.

Activities undertaken and methods:
Frogs will be located based on known occurrence records. Their advertisement calls will be recorded and a conservative number of individuals collected. Newly collected acoustic, molecular and morphological data will be analysed and published in a manuscript revising the taxonomy, distributions and conservation status of the focus frog species. The results of this study will also be communicated to the broader public through online blogs, social media and through updates to the species identification profiles on the free FrogID app.

Fate of animals: The majority of frogs located during this study will be left unharmed, with a conservative number humanely euthanised. Tissue samples and specimens will then be accessioned into the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery amphibian collection where they will be available for future study.

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
The three target species are widespread and abundant frog species. Call recording is non-invasive, and collecting a small number of representative individuals across their range will have negligible impacts on the species’ population as a whole, but will be vital in providing a benchmark for future species identification, informing frog conservation, and land-use planning in Tasmania.

Contact

Scientific Research Permits
Natural and Cultural Heritage
Level 5, 134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Email: Scientific.Permits@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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