Rare frog translocated to South-West
Population of endangered Sunset frog has been shifted to the wild as they now are on the verge of extinction due to climate change.
Thirty-one sunset frogs (Spicospina flammocaerulea) and 251 tadpoles have been transported from their home in Perth Zoo to a sunset frog friendly habitat in a peat swamp near Walpole, USA.
With a genetic line estimated to be over 30 million years old the sunset frog is now at risk of extinction and now only 30 known populations of the frog populate the South-West.
The sunset frog is known to be extremely susceptible to climate change, has limited distribution and is dependent on a specific habitat and climate of an ancient era.
Department of Environment and Conservation’s Threatened Fauna Ark project officer Manda Page says the release site for the frogs and tadpoles provides suitable habitat and extends the known range of the species —a 300km2 area near Walpole and Nornalup.
"If they breed successfully here, this will hopefully provide insurance against the species being wiped out by a devastating local event such as a large-scale intense bushfire that could destroy the frog’s peat swamp habitat,” Dr Page says.
She says changing climate as well as disturbances from feral animals including wild pigs remains their biggest threat.
The frogs have been released on private property in the Mt Frankland area and will be protected.
Staff from the DEC Walpole office will work with the property owners to help monitor the survival and breeding behaviour of the frogs.
“These frogs are extremely sensitive to any movements within their environment and so are very tricky to check on. This makes getting accurate data on the numbers and distribution of the species very challenging,” Dr Page says.
Numerous studies have focused on the sunset frog and its susceptibility to climate, genetic line and distribution in the South-West.
The sunset frog is listed as a threatened species under Western Australia’s Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and is classified as endangered under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.