Workers are re-creating the habitat of a rare forest frog in fire ravaged East Gippsland ion the hope they will hear its distinctive call once again.
The call of the Large Brown Tree Frog’s went unheard in eastern Victoria for 19 years between 1996 and 2015, and the vulnerable species faces another hurdle following the destruction of nine artificial habitat structures in the Black Summer bushfires, which threatens its local survival.
But the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, in partnership with MOOGJI Aboriginal Council, is replacing frog ponds and introducing 18 of the frogs into known breeding sites across East Gippsland under the Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery Program.
Marc Perri, DELWP Natural Environment Program Manager, says more is unknown than understood about the species.
“The Large Brown Tree Frog is an elusive species who has demonstrated their resilience to fire more than once,” he said.
“Researchers have the benefit of documented success and breeding sites for this species, which has mostly occurred over the past five years. We are building on this knowledge to fast track our response to supporting the Large Brown Tree Frog.”
In 2017, following the contemporary rediscovery of the species, a prototype was developed by DELWP’s Natural Environment Program that mimicked the environment where the rediscovery occurred, known as The Log - a large tree that was felled for road safety after wildfire in 2014.
The Log, located near the road network, presented long-term conservation issues for the species because of human disturbance and the presence of large amounts of sediment.
Within 12 months, more prototypes were installed and researchers began to see and hear Large Brown Tree Frogs.
In November 2019, DELWP established that the artificial habitats were supporting the life cycle of Large Brown Tree Frogs from tadpoles to adults.
With the benefit of the knowledge gained in the pre-fire trials, 27 frog ponds are under construction, thanks to MOOGJI Aboriginal Council, or scheduled for installation within the next three months.
“It’s a slow and steady road for Large Brown Tree Frogs, however we are improving upon what we’ve learnt and providing support in what will be the largest effort to date for the species in eastern Victoria,” Mr Perri said.
“Our researchers are passionate and skilled at identifying the unique call of the Large Brown Tree Frog, and we are waiting patiently for the day when we hear their beautiful reedy whistle to one another in the wild again.”
Reviewed 26 March 2021