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 Vulnerable
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 Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [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].
 
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
NSW:Peppered Frog - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005hc) [Internet].
NSW:Threatened Species Management Information Circular No.6 - Hygiene protocol for the control of disease in frogs (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2008b) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Predation by Gambusia holbrooki - The Plague Minnow (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2003i) [State Threat Abatement Plan].
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Schedules 2007-2009 (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2009b) [State Species Management Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Critically Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Critically Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Litoria piperata [1827]
Family Hylidae:Anura:Amphibia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Tyler and Davies,1985
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

Scientific name: Litoria piperata

Common name: Peppered Tree Frog

The Peppered Tree Frog belongs to the Leaf Green Tree Frog species complex (NSW NPWS 2001), which also includes Litoria barringtonensis, L. pearsoniana and L. phyllochroa. Considerable confusion exists over the systematics of the complex (Gillespie & Hines 1999). Studies of the genetic variation in populations of this complex revealed that the currently recognised 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. It is possible that this species represents morphologically distinct outlying populations of L. pearsoniana (Gillespie & Hines 1999).

The Peppered Tree Frog is a smooth, dull olive or grey-green coloured frog that grows to 30 mm. It has irregular darker brown marbling and flecking, often peppered with white/cream on limbs and flanks. The species has scattered tubercles on the head and well developed finger and toe discs which are markedly wider than the digits (Cogger 2000).

The Peppered Tree Frog was formerly known from five streams draining the east of the Northern Tablelands, from 800 to 1120 m, from the Gibraltar Ranges to south of Armidale, northern New South Wales (NSW NPWS 2001; Tyler & Davies 1985b).

The species was formerly known from the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park (Gara River Nature Reserve), Mitchell State Forest (Hines 2001, pers. comm.) and Mann River Nature Reserve (NSW NPWS 2001). Several of the type specimens were taken on freehold and leasehold land in the vicinity of Glen Innes (Tyler 1997).-

The extent of occurrence for the species was approximately 5000 km² (Gillespie & Hines 1999).

Despite searches of the historic localities and other streams with similar habitat within the known area of the Peppered Tree Frog (Mahony et al. 1997), the species has not been seen since 1973 (NSW NPWS 2001).

The Peppered Tree Frog occupies rocky streams in open forest and wet sclerophyll forest (Heatwole et al. 1995) at altitudes of 800 to 1120 m (Gillespie & Hines 1999). The general area in which this species has been recorded has been referred to as the 'dry eastern escarpment' (NSW NPWS 1994). Common streamside vegetation at sites where records were made includes Lomandra, Leptospermum and Casuarina (Mahony 1996 in NSW NPWS 2001).

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 & Hines 1999). It is presumed breeding activity occurs during the warmer months following reasonable rainfall (NSW NPWS 2001). Advertisement call is not known.

Peppered Tree Frog adults are active in bushes or on rocks at the edge of creeks. On one occasion an aggregation of 22 animals was found by day in cracks in a dead tree limb next to a stream (Webb 1973).

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

Call surveys should be conducted during the known calling period of the Peppered Tree Frog, between November and March (Mahony et al. 1997).

The larval period of the Peppered Tree Frog is from November to March (Mahony et al. 1997), however the breeding and tadpole habitat for this species is unknown.

The cause of the apparent decline in the Peppered Tree Frog population is unknown. However, most of the historic sites and other streams in the region have undergone substantial alteration and suffered significant habitat disturbance through land clearance, grazing and timber harvesting (Hines 2001, pers. comm.).

Introduced predatory fish species (Eastern Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) and salmonids) occur in streams formerly occupied by the species and may have displaced frog populations by predation upon larvae (Gillespie & Hines 1999). These fish are likely to have had a significant impact on the Peppered Tree Frog given the vulnerability of other members of the L. citropa group to trout predation.

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).

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
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Personal Communication (Hines, H., 2001) [Personal Communication].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Personal Communication (Hines, H., 2001) [Personal Communication].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Gambusia holbrooki (Eastern Gambusia, Mosquitofish) Status of temperate riverine frogs in south-eastern Australia. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 109-130. (Gillespie, G.R. & H.B. Hines, 1999) [Book].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Status of temperate riverine frogs in south-eastern Australia. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 109-130. (Gillespie, G.R. & H.B. Hines, 1999) [Book].
Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Personal Communication (Hines, H., 2001) [Personal Communication].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Litoria piperata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006nl) [Internet].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2001s) [Recovery Plan].

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.

Donnellan, S.C., K. McGuigan, R. Knowles, M. Mahony & C. Moritz (1999). Genetic evidence for species boundaries in frogs of the Litoria citropa species-group (Anura: Hylidae). Australian Journal of Zoology. 47:275-293.

Gillespie, G.R. & H.B. Hines (1999). Status of temperate riverine frogs in south-eastern Australia. In: A. Campbell, ed. Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. Page(s) 109-130. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Heatwole, H., J. de Bavay., P. Webber & G. Webb (1995). Faunal survey of New England. IV. The frogs. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 38:229-249.

Hines, H. (2001). Personal Communication.

Mahony, M., R. Knowles & L. Pattinson (1997d). Peppered Tree Frog Litoria piperata. In: Ehmann, H., ed. Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation. Page(s) 182-187. Frog & Tadpole Study Group of NSW, Sydney.

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (2001s). Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) and Peppered Tree Frog (Litoria piperata) recovery plan. [Online]. NSW NPWS, Hurstville. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/litoria-c-p/index.html.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (1994). Fauna of North-east NSW Forests. Northeast Forests Biodiversity Study Report No. 3. Unpublished Report, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

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.

Tyler, M.J. & M. Davies (1985b). A new species of Litoria (Anura: Hylidae) from New South Wales, Australia. Copeia. 1985:145-149.

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

Webb, G. (1973). Field notes accompanying registered Litoria piperata specimens in Australian Museum.

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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 piperata in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 22 Aug 2014 04:31:19 +1000.