Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis (Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006o) [Threat Abatement Plan].
Threat abatement advice for predation, habitat degradation,competition and disease transmission by feral pigs (2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Frogs. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.3 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010h) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Common mistfrog (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2013j) [Database].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Litoria rheocola [1802]
Family Hylidae:Anura:Amphibia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Liem,1974
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images ;

Scientific name: Litoria rheocola

Common name: Common Mistfrog

The Common Mistfrog is a dull grey or brown coloured frog, with irregular darker markings. There is a distinct inverted triangle marking on the top of the head, stretching between the eyes down to the coccygeal region. An obscure darker band runs along the side of the snout, through the eye and ear to the shoulder. The skin is smooth above, with scattered small tubercles. The ventral surface is granular and white in colour. The finger and toe discs are large. The fingers are moderately webbed, the toes are nearly fully webbed. The tympanum is small and covered by skin, though the rim may be distinct. The male nuptial pads are small and they do not have the enlarged arms of other Torrent Treefrog males. The tip of the snout is bluntly pointed (Cogger 2000; Cunningham 2002; Liem 1974).

The Common Mistfrog historically occurred from Broadwater Creek National Park to Amos Bay, northern Queensland, at altitudes between 0 and 1180 m above sea level (asl) (McDonald 1992). It has since disappeared from most upland sites south of the Daintree River. In 2013, there was an exciting rediscovery of upland sites (possibly near Spurgeon River) that may indicate recovery of populations that had become locally extinct from chytrid disease (Hoskin & Puschendorf 2013).

Lowland populations of the Common Mistfrog (below 400 m asl) still exist (McDonald & Alford 1999). The species has been found during surveys of the Joyce Creek at Bramston Beach, between Babinda and Innisfail in far North Queensland, approximately 70 km south of Cairns (EPBC 2008/4228). The species was abundant in Danbulla State Forest (700 m asl) in September 1982, but was not recorded during monitoring conducted between 1989 and 1992. It is reported that only two adults were observed at Bobbin Bobbin Falls on the Atherton Tableland, although the species had been found regularly in that area between 1998 and February 2000 (Retallick 2001b, pers. comm.; Richards et al. 1993). At O'Keefe Creek, Big Tableland, this species has occasionally reappeared near a 400 m asl site, but has not established resident populations and is absent at a 600 m asl monitoring site (McDonald & Alford 1999). Adults and tadpoles remain common at upland sites north of the Daintree River (Richards et al. 1993) but disappeared in 1993 (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.). In 1990 several Common Mistfrog habitat sites were sampled between the Kirrama Range and Cooktown. The species was common at all foothills and lowland sites and was recorded at some upland sites in the Kirrama Range in April, and on the Carbine Tableland in January of that year (Richards et al. 1993). In 2013, intensive, targeted surveys of the species "revealed many new populations" but no further information is available (Hoskin & Puschendorf 2013).

The area of occupancy of the Common Mistfrog is approximately 6000 km² (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.).

Three genetic lineages of this species have been identified, based on mitochondrial DNA. These are distributed from Kirrama Range to Palmerston National Park, Bartle Frere to Harris Park and from Mt Lewis to Big Tableland. Each of these lineages carries substantial genetic variability (Schneider et al. 1998).

Common Mistfrogs are known from Cedar Bay, Crater, Crater Lakes, Daintree, Lumholtz, Millstream, Wooroonooran, Elizabeth Grant Falls and Palmerston National Parks. It is also present in the Herberton Range, Kirrama, Lamb Range, Maalan, Mt Lewis, Ravenshoe, Tam O'Shanter and Windsor Tableland State Forests and SF758 Alcock and Daintree Timber Reserve (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.; Tyler 1997).

The Common Mistfrog is a rainforest specialist, endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion (Williams & Hero 1998, 2001). The species is restricted to fast flowing rocky creeks and streams in rainforest as well as wet sclerophyll forest (Liem 1974; McDonald 1992). Within these streams this species are often found in the slower more open sections, away from waterfalls (Hodgkison & Hero 2002). Individuals can be found on rocks, logs and vegetation in or adjacent to streams (Hero & Fickling 1994).

The Common Mistfrog has also been recorded at the Defence Training Area, Tully, Queensland. The species has a high probability of occurrence in the direct impact zone (live firing training area) (Department of Defence 2002).

There are reported differences in habitat use between male and female Common Mistfrogs. Females and juveniles use streamside vegetation more frequently than males. In contrast males displayed strong fidelity to the rocky stream environment (Hodgkison & Hero 2002).

Breeding has been observed in most months (except during cold winter nights) and seems to reach a peak between November and March (Dennis & Trenerry 1984; Liem 1974). Males call from rocks or boulders in creeks or from vegetation overhanging water along streams and creeks (Liem 1974). The males appear to display inter-male spacing; rarely found within 1 m of each other. This is possibly a territorial response to low availability of females (Hodgkison & Hero 2002). Compact gelatinous clumps of 46-63 unpigmented eggs (2.4-2.6 mm diameter), are laid under rocks in water. Tadpoles can be found in fast flowing sections of stream and adjacent pools in highly oxygenated water, clinging to rocks and other substrates (Hero & Fickling 1994; Liem 1974). The tadpoles of the species are described as torrent-dwelling, having flattened bodies, large suctorial mouthparts and muscular tails (Liem 1974).

Common Mistfrog tadpoles graze on algae-covered rocks in fast flowing waters (Liem 1974). Adults feed indiscriminately on both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. Their principle diet includes Diptera, Coleoptera, Orthoptera, Blattodea, Hemiptera and Aranea (Hodgkison & Hero 2003).

The methods that have been successfully used in the past to survey the Common Mist Frog are visual encounter surveys, call surveys and night driving. Call surveys should be conducted during the known calling period of the Common Mist Frog, between November and March (Dennis & Trennery 1984; Liem 1974).

Egg mass surveys may be effective as this species has clearly visible eggs. The larval period of the Common Mist Frog is from January to December (Dennis & Trennery 1984; Liem 1974). Breeding locations for this species are reported in streams or vegetation overhanging in the water. Tadpoles have been recorded clinging to substrates in fast flowing, highly oxygenated section of streams (Hero & Ficking 1994; Liem 1974).

Reasons for the decline of the Common Mistfog are not well known. Drought, flood, pollution by pesticides, inorganic ions or heavy metals have been rejected as potential reasons (Richards et al. 1993). The habitat of the species in the Wet Tropics has been protected since 1988, therefore habitat destruction is no longer a threat (McDonald & Alford 1999).

There has been repeated speculation that UV-B light has caused the decline in Common Mistfrog populations, but there is no evidence to support this and it is now considered unlikely as a hypothesis (NQTFRT 2001).

Current research is examining the possibility that disease, such as a viral infection or chytrid fungus, may have contributed to the decline of this species (Berger et al. 1999), and there is considerable circumstantial evidence to support this hypothesis (NQTFRT 2001). However, in recent experiments involving the translocation of tadpoles and adult frogs to sites previously occupied by the species, no clear pattern was evident in the disease results, and only some of the frogs found dead showed signs of Chytridiomycosis (Retallick 1999, 2000, 2001). It is unknown as to whether this disease was solely responsible for the disappearance of the Common Mistfrog at these sites. The chytrid fungus has been found in individuals collected in a variety of locations (Speare & Berger 2000). The Common Mistfrog has less effective natural defences (protective skin peptides) against chytrid fungus than other frog species in the same habitats that have not declined (Woodhams et al. 2006).

Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease affecting amphibians worldwide. The disease has been recorded in four regions of Australia, namely the east coast, south-west Western Australia, Adelaide, and more recently Tasmania. This highly virulent fungal pathogen of amphibians is capable at the minimum of causing sporadic deaths in some populations, and 100 per cent mortality in other populations (AGDEH 2006o).

Feral pigs are a potential cause of riparian habitat damage and adult frog mortality. The activity of feral pigs has been recorded to have increased over the period 1989 to 1992 in an area previously inhabited by the Common Mistfrog. Very little research has been conducted into the impact of feral pigs on native frog populations (Richards et al. 1993).

  • Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (NQTFRT 2001).
  • Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (AGDEH 2005p).
  • Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis (AGDEH 2006o).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Declines in populations of Australia's endemic tropical rainforest frogs. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:66-77. (Richards, S.J., K.R. McDonald & R.A. Alford, 1993) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Utility and Service Lines:Powerline easement maintenance and construction; mortality due to collision with powerlines Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 (Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT), 2001) [Recovery Plan].

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2005p). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs. [Online]. Available from:

Berger, L., R. Speare & A. Hyatt (1999). Chytrid fungi and amphibian declines: overview, implications and future directions. In: Campbell, A., ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 23-33. [Online]. Canberra: Environment Australia. Available from:

Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia - 6th edition. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland.

Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2006o). Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis. [Online]. Available from:

Cunningham, M. (2001). Personal communication.

Cunningham, M. (2002). Identification and evolution of Australian Torrent Treefrogs (Anura:Hylidae:Litoria nannotis group). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 48(1):93-102.

Dennis, A & M. Trenerry (1984). Observations on species diversity and habitat compartmentalisation of the frogs of Mt Lewis rainforests, North Queensland. North Queensland Naturalist. 52:2-9.

Department of Defence (2002). Establishment of Eleven Sneaker Ranges in the Jarra Creek and Impact Sectors of the Tully Training Area.

EPBC 2008/4228 (2008). Cairns Water and Waste Bramston Beach Water and Sewerage Planning. Referral documentation. [Online]. Cairns, Queensland: GHD. Available from:

Hero, J.-M & S. Fickling (1994). A Guide to the Stream-Dwelling Frogs of the Wet Tropics Rainforests. North Queensland: James Cook University.

Hodgkison, S.C. & J.-M. Hero (2002). Seasonal behaviour of Litoria nannotis, Litoria rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi in Tully Gorge, north Queensland, Australia. In: R. Nattrass, ed. Frogs in the Community - Proceedings of the Brisbane Conference 13-14 Feb 1999. Qld Museum.

Hodgkison, S.C. & J.-M. Hero (2003). Seasonal, sexual and ontogenetic variations in the diet of the declining frogs, Litoria nannotis, L. rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi. Wildlife Research. 30:345-354.

Hoskin C & R Puschendorf (2013). Project 3.3 - Targeted surveys for missing and critically endangered rainforest frogs in ecotonal areas, and assessment of whether populations are recovering from disease. June 2013 Milestone Report. National Environmnetal Research Program (NERP) Tropical Ecosystems Hub.

Liem, D.S. (1974). A review of the Litoria nannotis species group and a description of a new species of Litoria from north-east Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 17:151-168.

McDonald, K. & R. Alford (1999). A review of declining frogs in northern Queensland. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 14-22. Canberra: Environment Australia.

McDonald, K.R. (1992). Distribution patterns and conservation status of north Queensland rainforest frogs. Conservation Technical Report 1. Brisbane: Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.

Northern Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team (NQTFRT) (2001). Recovery Plan for the stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland 2000 - 2004. [Online]. QPWS. Available from:

Retallick, R. (1999). Using translocations to learn about frog declines and disease.

Retallick, R. (2000). Implementation of Queensland's Threatened Frog Recovery Plans, Experimental Ecology. Report from QPWS to EA.

Retallick, R. (2001). Translocations and Experimental Ecology of Declining Frogs in Queensland.

Retallick, R. (2001b). Personal Communication.

Richards, S.J., K.R. McDonald & R.A. Alford (1993). Declines in populations of Australia's endemic tropical rainforest frogs. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:66-77.

Schneider, C.J., M. Cunningham & C. Moritz (1998). The comparative phylogeography and the history of endemic vertebrates in the Wet Tropics rainforests of Australia. Molecular Ecology. 7:487-498.

Speare, R & L. Berger (2000). Chytridiomycosis in amphibians in Australia. [Online]. Townsville, Queensland: Rainforest CRC & School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University. Available from:

Tyler, M.J. (1997). The Action Plan for Australian Frogs. [Online]. Wildlife Australia. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia. Available from:

Williams, S.E. & J-M. Hero (1998). Rainforest frogs of the Australian Wet Tropics: guild classification and the ecological similarity of declining species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 265:597-602.

Williams, S.E. & J-M. Hero (2001). Multiple Determinants of Australian Tropical Frog Biodiversity. Biological Conservation. 98:1-10.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Litoria rheocola in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Sat, 20 Sep 2014 02:14:03 +1000.