AMPHIBIAWEB
Litoria piperata
Peppered Tree Frog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Pelodryadinae
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Critically Endangered (CR)
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None

 

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

   

From the IUCN Red List Species Account:

 

Range Description

This Australian endemic was formerly known from five streams draining the east of the Northern Tablelands, from 800-1,120m asl, from Gibraltar Range to Armidale, northern New South Wales (Tyler and Davies 1985a). The distribution map does not include northern populations that might belong to this species (see additional information under Notes on Taxonomy).

Habitat and Ecology

This species is known to occupy open forest and wet sclerophyll forest (Heatwole et al. 1995). Little is known about the breeding biology of this species. However, morphological similarity to Litoria pearsoniana and L. phyllochroa suggests that ecological similarities are likely (Gillespie and Hines 1999).

Population

Despite searches of the historic localities and other streams with similar habitat within the region (Mahony 1997), the species has not been seen since 1973. If the northern populations do not belong to this species (see Notes on Taxonomy), then it is possible that it is extinct.

Population Trend

Unknown

Major Threats

The causes of the apparent declines are unknown. However, most of the historic sites and other streams in the region have undergone substantial alteration and suffered significant habitat disturbance through clearance of vegetation, grazing and timber harvesting (H.B. Hines pers. comm.). Introduced predatory fish species (Eastern Gambusia Gambusia holbrooki and salmonids) occur in streams formerly occupied by the species and might have displaced frog populations by predation upon larvae (Gillespie and Hines 1999). Given the vulnerability of other members of the L. citropa group to trout predation, these fish are likely to have had a significant impact on populations of this species. In addition, chytridiomycosis cannot be ruled out as a cause of the decline.

Conservation Actions

It is recognized as Endangered in Queensland and New South Wales, and therefore protected by state legislation. Its range includes Gara River Nature Reserve and Mount Mitchell State Forest. This species is a priority for immediate further survey work to determine whether or not it might possibly still survive at the localities from which it has previously been recorded, and both taxonomic and survey work is required to determine the status of the possible northern populations. Research is also needed into the possible reasons for the decline of the species. Given the possible threat of chytridiomycosis or some other disease, surviving individuals might need to form the basis for the establishment of an ex-situ population.

Taxonomic Notes

This assessment is based only on the sites from which the species was described by Tyler and Davies (1985a), i.e., between Armidale and Glen Innes. However, in 1992 surveys outside the known range on the Northern Tablelands located populations of frogs which closely resemble this species (NSW NPWS 1994). While the external morphology of the population closely resembles L. piperata, the mating call is very similar to L. pearsoniana (M. Mahony pers. comm. in Tyler 1997). It is possible that this species represents morphologically distinct outlying populations of L. pearsoniana. Considerable confusion exists over the systematics of the Litoria barringtonensis, L. pearsoniana, L. phyllochroa, and L. piperata complex. Studies of the genetic variation in populations of this complex revealed that the currently recognized species boundaries are in need of major review (Donellan et al. 1999). Further genetic and morphometric studies are required to resolve the systematics of these northern populations.

Citation

Jean-Marc Hero, Harry Hines, Frank Lemckert 2004. Litoria piperata. In: IUCN 2014

 

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