Bird

Tiny frog needs messy environment

The Frog of the Month for June is the Bibron’s Toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii) as part of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s 2022 Year of the Frog community awareness campaign.

The Frog of the Month for June is the Bibron’s Toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii) as part of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s 2022 Year of the Frog community awareness campaign.

This project is supported by the Goulburn Broken CMA through funding from the Australian Government.

GB CMA project officer, Janice Mentiplay-Smith, said the Bibron’s Toadlet, also known as the Brown Toadlet , was one of the Goulburn Broken catchment’s tiniest toadlets, at only 2-3 centimetres long.

Distinguishable by the orange or yellow patch on its armpit, the Bibron’s Toadlet has fingers and toes for walking, not webbed for swimming, an indicator of its lifestyle.

“An animal’s physical characteristics are usually a reliable indicator about how and where it lives,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“In the case of the Bibron’s Toadlet, the fact its feet are designed more for the ground and less for water indicates it spends a lot of its time in the local Grey Box grassy woodlands and forests environment, rather than in a water body, which is the usual place we think of when we talk about frogs.

“Also, any species of frog that has its taxonomic name beginning with Pseudophryne indicates that it’s a terrestrial frog, with most species commonly called toadlets.”

Instead of laying her eggs in a farm dam or rain-filled depression, the female Bibron’s Toadlet lays her small single cluster of eggs at a damp location close to a water body, beneath a log, amongst fallen leaves or beneath moss. The eggs are guarded by the male, and the tadpoles are released into the nearby water body once rain falls and the site becomes inundated. Once in the water, the tadpoles develop into frogs, a process that takes around 4-6 months.

Ms Mentiplay-Smith said the Bibron’s Toadlet was a reason why the ground layer was so important in our environment.

“Without a ‘messy’ layer of fallen leaves, logs, stones, and branches, the Bibron’s Toadlet loses the very element it needs in the environment to produce the next generation of Bibron’s Toadlets,” she said.

“By leaving the ground cover, landholders are allowing the Bibron’s Toadlet, and the food it eats such as ants, mites, and beetles, a place to live and breed.

“The message is clear – value your “messy” areas, whether it be on the farm or in the backyard, because you never know when an endangered frog will need to call it home.”

This frog was only last year classified as endangered in Victoria. Records indicate it has reduced in numbers and its range has contracted, with estimates that its rate of decline is less than or equal to 30 per cent over 10 years.

The Goulburn Broken Catchment’s grey box grassy woodlands are a focus of the GB CMA Linking Landscapes and Communities Project that works with landowners, communities, and Traditional Owners to improve this critical habitat.

Throughout 2022, the Goulburn Broken CMA and partners are celebrating the Year of the Frog, featuring a local frog species each month. For more information contact Janice Mentiplay-Smith on 0418 316 169 or email: janicem@gbcma.vic.gov.au

Bibron’s Toadlet. Photo by Chris Tzaros.

Bibron’s Toadlet. Photo by David De Angelis