How do they Sound?
Corroboree Frogs are well known both for their striking appearance and for their alarming population decline. Found only in a small area of the beautiful Kosciuszko National Park, these little amphibians need our help now more than ever. Taronga Zoo is involved in a National Recovery Program to help save this species.
The small Southern Corroboree Frog is easily recognised by its striking yellow and black striped pattern. These frogs are only found in a small area of Kosciuszko National Park, NSW, Australia and all populations are only found at altitudes above 1300 metres. Their habitat includes woodlands, grasslands and heathlands. Their breeding sites are found in shallow pools and sphagnum moss.
Breeding occurs from January to February. Males construct small burrows in sphagnum moss and call to females to attract them. Up to 10 females each lay between 15 to 30 eggs in the burrow and males shed sperm directly onto the eggs. The males stay to guard the fertilised eggs. Tadpoles start to develop within the egg capsule and hatching occurs when ground-water levels rise after rain and causes the eggs to swell. Hatching occurs at four to six months and the tadpole development continues for six to eight months. Metamorphosis occurs between December and early February, froglets taking another 2-3 years to reach sexual maturity.
Behaviour and Diet
Very little is known about the frogs after they leave the pools as juveniles. It is most likely that the frogs remain in moist vegetation for several months, where they feed on a wide variety of small invertebrates. As they grow larger, the juveniles leave the breeding area and move into nearby habitat where they remain until they are adults. The diet of adults consists mainly of small ants and, to a lesser extent, other invertebrates. Food intake is greatly reduced during winter, with many individuals apparently not feeding. (IUCN)
The Corroboree Frog is a secretive creature and is often very hard to see in the wild. It is unusual in that this frog walks in a manner far more like a lizard than a frog. Neither sex has webbed feet. These frogs are also thought to be able to produce their own poisonous alkaloids, while many other frogs use their diet to help them produce their toxins.
There are a number of threats which are contributing to the declining population of Corroboree Frogs, though more research still needs to be done to determine which process are the most damaging. Another species of Pseudophryne (the Northern Corroboree) is stll widespread in its range.
Things affecting the frog include changes to weather patterns, diseases such as Chytridiomycosis, planting of exotic species such as willows causing changes to the ground cover, damage caused by feral pigs and changes to fire regimes.
Taronga Zoo, together with the Amphibian Research Centre, the University of Canberra, Snowy Hydro Ltd and the Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW), are working to help save the Corroboree Frog. We are using our zoo expertise to raise Corroboree Frogs after collecting their eggs from the wild. Most frogs are exposed to the Chytrid Fungus in the tadpole stage of their lifecycle. It is hoped that if we can reduce threats in Kosciusko National Park, we will be able to return the zoo-reared frogs to the wild.