Biodiversity

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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Litoria nyakalensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2007b) [Listing Advice].
 
APPROVED Conservation Advice on Litoria nyakalensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2007e) [Conservation Advice].
 
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 Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
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].
 
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].
 
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (51) (09/01/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007g) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Critically Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Litoria nyakalensis [1820]
Family Hylidae:Anura:Amphibia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Liem,1974
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
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
http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/tbiol/zoology/herp/mwt/nyak.html

Scientific name: Litoria nyakalensis

Common name: Mountain Mistfrog

The Mountain Mistfrog is a moderate sized, robust treefrog growing 30 to 48 mm in length. The dorsal surface is uniform olive-brown or grey-brown, sometimes with irregular darker olive markings. The skin is smooth above, with scattered tubercles on the head and back. The ventral surfaces are granular, cream in colour with a reddish-pink flush on the limbs and pectoral region, and sometimes dotted or flecked with brown. The iris is brown. The finger and toe disks are large and conspicuous. The fingers have slight webbing, and the toes are fully webbed. The thumb of the Mountain Mistfrog is large up till the disc, which is reduced in size, giving the thumb a conical apprearence. The forearm is robust in the male, with a large nuptial pad with coarse spinules. The tympanum is small and indistinct and covered by skin (Cogger 1994; Cunningham 2002; Liem 1974; Richards 1993).

The call of the Mountain Mistfrog has been described as a regularly repeated, rasping, single note call (Liem 1974), or a soft, slow, popping growl (McDonald 1992).

Mountain Mistfrog tadpoles have a depressed body and are light brown in colour with a cream patch between the eyes (less distinct in large specimens). The tail muscle is very robust, cream with distinct light brown blotches that extend into the anterior portion of the clear fins. The tail fin is low anteriorly, high posteriorly and broadly rounded at the tip. The large suctorial oral disc is surrounded with marginal and submarginal papillae. There are two tooth rows anterior to the mouth, and three posterior to it (Richards 1992).

The Mountain Mistfrog formerly occurred across two thirds of the Wet Tropics Region from Douglas Creek near Cardwell to Alexandra Creek, Thornton Peak, north-east Queensland (Hero & Fickling 1994) at altitudes between 380 and 1020 m (McDonald 1992).

Adult Mountain Mistfrogs were last recorded in April 1990, and tadpoles and metamorphs were last recorded in November 1990 on the Carbine Tableland (Richards et al. 1993). However, this species had apparently disappeared from sites on the Atherton Tableland much earlier (Richards et al. 1993). It was recorded from various sites on the Atherton Tableland prior to 1973 (Liem 1974), but was not encountered in Danbulla State Forest during 1989 to 1992 or at any Atherton Tableland site during surveys conducted between 1991 and 1992 (Richards et al. 1993).

The historical extent of occurrence for this species was approximately 6000 km² (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.).

The Mountain Mistfrog was not considered at risk as recently as 1990 (McDonald 1992, McDonald et al. 1991), but has not been sighted since that year (Richards et al. 1993). Extensive surveys throughout its former range in 1991 to 1992, and 1993 failed to relocate this species (Richards et al. 1993; Trenerry et al. 1994). In 2013, intensive surveys under ideal weather conditions failed to locate the species (Hoskin & Puschendorf 2013).

No information is available on population structure or genetic variation of the Mountain Mistfrog (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.).

The Mountain Mistfrog was formerly known from the following Reserves: Wooroonooran, Daintree, Crater Lakes, Crater and Palmerston National Parks, Mt Lewis, Maalan, Ravenshoe, Herberton Range and Kirrama State Forests and SF758 Alcock, and Daintree Timber Reserve (165 Monkhouse) (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.; Tyler 1997).

The Mountain Mistfrog was formerly known from the following Reserves: Wooroonooran, Daintree, Crater Lakes, Crater and Palmerston National Parks, Mt Lewis, Maalan, Ravenshoe, Herberton Range and Kirrama State Forests and SF758 Alcock, and Daintree Timber Reserve (165 Monkhouse) (Cunningham 2001, pers. comm.; Tyler 1997).

The Mountain Mistfrog is a rainforest specialist, endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion (Williams & Hero 1998, 2001). It is found in upland rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest along fast-flowing streams where there is white water from riffles and cascades (Liem 1974; McDonald 1992). It is usually found perched on rocks or overhanging vegetation adjacent to the water (Liem 1974). The tadpoles are restricted to fast-flowing waters where they cling to rocks in riffles and torrents and in highly oxygenated pools below waterfalls (Liem 1974; Richards 1992). Tadpoles also burrow into loose sand under rocks which may help them withstand the violent floods that often occur in rainforest streams (Richards 1992).

Little is known about the life history of the Mountain Mistfrog. Mating calls have been heard from October to March (Liem 1974). Between 86 to 90 large unpigmented eggs (1.9 to 2.5 mm diameter) are laid under rocks in riffles (Hero & Fickling 1996; Richards 1993). The minimum age at which females are known or suspected to first reproduce is 2 to 3 years (Frogs Australia Network 2005). Richards (1992) described the tadpole and noted that it is one of the few species of tadpole known to exhibit adaptations to torrent environments of Australia, including a streamlined body shape, large suctorial mouthparts and muscular tail. Tadpoles commonly overwinter in upland streams, although those hatching in early summer can metamorphose before the next autumn (Richards 1992).

The Mountain Mistfrog displays an obligate association with streams and has been observed or collected within stream banks throughout the year (McDonald & Alford 1999).

The methods that have successfully been used in the past to survey the Mountain Mistfrog are visual encounter surveys, call surveys and larval sampling (UC 2003).

Call surveys should be conducted during the known calling period of the Mountain Mistfrog, between October and March (Richards et al. 1993).

The larval period of the Mountain Mistfrog is from December to September (Richards et al. 1993). It breeds in streams or vegetation overhanging in the water. Eggs are laid under rocks in riffles (Richards 1993; Hero & Ficking 1996) and tadpoles have been recorded in fast flowing water near riffles, torrents and waterfalls. They have also been found clinging to rocks or in burrows in sand (Hodgkinson & Hero 2001; Liem 1974).

The reason(s) for the decline of the Mountain Mistfrog are unknown. Richards et al. (1993) reject drought, floods, habitat destruction or pollution by pesticides, inorganic ions or heavy metals. 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 declines, 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 chytridiomycosis also know as chytrid fungus disease or a viral infection, 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).

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 (DEH 2006).

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 Mountain Mistfrog. There is very little research, however, into the impact of feral pigs on native frog populations (Richards et al. 1993).

The Recovery Plan for the Stream-dwelling Rainforest Frogs of the Wet Tropics Biogeographic Region of North-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 identifies the following recovery actions and objectives for the Mountain Mistfrog (QLD EPA & NQTFRT 2000).

Overall objective

To improve significantly the conservation status and long term survival of each species through protection of existing populations, location of additional populations, or expansion of existing populations into areas previously inhabited.

Specific objectives (2000-2004)

    1. Establish the continued existence of populations of T. acutirostris, T. rheophilus, L. lorica and L. nyakalensis.
    2. Secure the existing populations of all extant species.
    3. Identify and reduce or eliminate the major threatening process(es).
    4. Increase the number of stable populations of all extant species by expansion into their former ranges.
    5. Ensure that frog conservation is incorporated into all appropriate land management decisions by raising the awareness of the declining frog problem within all levels of government and the general community.

The Recovery Plan for the Stream-dwelling Rainforest Frogs of the Wet Tropics Biogeographic Region of North-east Queensland 2000 - 2004 outlines the recovery actions and objectives for the Mountain Mistfrog (QLD EPA & NQTFRT 2000).

The Department of the Environment and Heritage has developed a threat abatement plan which aims to :

  • Prevent amphibian populations or regions that are currently chytridiomycosis-free from becoming infected by preventing further spread of the amphibian chytrid within Australia,

  • Decrease the impact of infection with the amphibian chytrid fungus on populations that are currently infected.

The Threat Abatement Plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis can be found at http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/chytrid/index.html

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
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Litoria nyakalensis (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2007b) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Litoria nyakalensis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006nk) [Internet].
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 Litoria nyakalensis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006nk) [Internet].
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 Litoria nyakalensis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006nk) [Internet].

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: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/frogs.html.

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: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/chytrid.html.

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.

Frogs Australia Network (2005e). Fact Sheet: Litoria nyakalensis. [Online]. Available from: http://frogsaustralia.net.au/frogs/display.cfm?frog_id=172.

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

Hero, J.-M. & S. Fickling (1996). Reproductive characteristics of female frogs from mesic habitats in Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 39:306.

Hodgiskon, S. & J.M. Hero (2001). Daily behaviour and Microhabitat use of the Waterfall frog, Litoria nannotis in Tully Gorge, Eastern Australia. Journal of Herpetology. 35(1):116-120.

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: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/rainforest-frogs/index.html.

Richards, S.J. (1992). The tadpole of the Australian frog Litoria nyakalensis (Anura: Hylidae), and a key to the torrent tadpoles of northern Queensland. Alytes. 10:99-103.

Richards, S.J. (1993). A guide to the identification of declining frogs and their tadpoles in the Wet Tropics Biogeographical Region, Queensland. Unpub. Report QDEH.

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.

Tyler, M.J. (1997). The Action Plan for Australian Frogs. [Online]. Wildlife Australia. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/frogs/index.html.

University of Canberra (UC) (2003). Survey Standards for Australian Frogs. Canberra, Australia: Applied Ecology Research Group, UC.

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 nyakalensis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 12 Jul 2014 00:08:08 +1000.