‘Extinct’ frog found thriving

The Armoured Mist frog -Picture: Robert Puschendorf

A frog species not seen for the past 17 years has been found in a remote location in Far North Queensland.

James Cook University’s Professor Ross Alford said it was feared that the Armoured Mist Frog (Litoria lorica) had been lost in the devastating outbreaks of amphibian chytrid fungus that started in the Wet Tropics 20 years ago.

“But JCU PhD student Robert Puschendorf working with myself and the JCU Amphibian Disease Ecology Group has found a healthy population of the Armoured Mist Frog well outside the areas it used to inhabit,” Professor Alford said.

“The population at a remote location on the Carbine Tableland is healthy and is coexisting with a healthy population of the Waterfall Frog, Litoria nannotis, another species that declined due to the fungus.

“All frogs of both species are in good health, although most individuals are infected with the amphibian chytrid fungus.”

He said the identification of this species was confirmed by Dr. Conrad Hoskin of the Australian National University.

Professor Alford’s group plans to learn how these populations are able to coexist with the disease, and use this information to develop better strategies for the future conservation and management of vulnerable frogs.

Amphibian chytrid fungus is believed to have caused the extinctions of all known high elevation populations of seven frog species in the Wet Tropics between the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Some of those species have since recolonised some sites, “ Professor Alford said, “and our team has been working to discover how they are now able to coexist with this devastating pathogen. “

He said the research would not have been possible without funding from the Federal Department of Environment, Heritage, Water, and the Arts, Australian Geographic, and the Skyrail Foundation, and collaboration with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Photographs of the rediscovered Armoured Mist Frog are available from the researchers.

Issued September 11, 2008

Contact: Robert Puschendorf ( Robert.puschendorf@jcu.edu.au ) or

Professor Ross Alford (07 4781 4732 or 0427 122937,Ross.Alford@jcu.edu.au)

JCU Media Liaison, Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449