Saving the Critically Endangered spotted tree frog following the 2019–20 bushfires

Date: 22, Oct, 2021
Author(s): Matt West  
Publisher: TSR Hub

Spotted tree frogs are Critically Endangered in Victoria and New South Wales. The few remaining populations have low resilience to predation by non-native fish and disease caused by chytrid fungus. Additionally, the 2019–20 bushfires burnt 50% of sites used by spotted tree frogs, and high rainfall caused flooding and blackwater events after the fires. While the bushfire, post-fire flooding and blackwater events likely directly killed many frogs, eggs and tadpoles, a high proportion of frogs were also found to be infected by chytrid fungus during post-fire surveys. The number of frogs at some sites were so low that researchers decided to salvage remaining individuals to establish a captive conservation breeding and insurance population at Zoos Victoria. Captive-bred spotted tree frogs will eventually be released back into the wild to help increase the resilience of wild populations to existing threats like chytrid fungus, and future fire events.