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Green and Golden Bell Frog and Cane Toads in NSW
April 21, 2010 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Michelle was stopped by flu from presenting at the October 2009 seminar, so we are pleased that she has agreed to talk to us again on the ongoing research findings in relation to the survival of the Green and Golden Bell Frog (G&GBF). She will be joined by Mike Mohony, Newcastle University researcher, talking about the current state of cane toad management in Australia.
Michelle Stockwell is from the Amphibian Research Group at the University of Newcastle’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences and her ongoing research has focused on the G&GBF. The amphibian chyrtid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is an aquatic pathogen that infects the outer epidermal layers of post-metamorphic amphibians causing the fatal disease chytridiomycosis. Chytridiomycosis has been implicated in the decline and extinction of over 200 amphibian species worldwide, one of which is the Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea). The G&GBF is an endangered pond breeding species that has declined from over 90% of its former range and currently occurs as a series of isolated populations in highly disturbed coastal environments. G&GBF’s are very susceptible to chytridiomycosis and yet many remaining populations persist with low-level chytrid infections. This study investigated the role of environmental inhibitors of the chytrid fungus in allowing the G&GBF to persist. The presentation will also cover implications of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act with respect to this species.
Mike Mahony is Newcastle University’s resident frog expert, and a member of the federal government Cane Toad Advisory Committee. Many methods of biological control have been canvassed and closely scrutinised for cane toads and to date none have been successful – the most promising controls are seen to be years away. However, a recent approach to killing young Cane Toads using cat food may be simple and ecologically safe. Mike will briefly review the various approaches and the current state of play.
The action of invasive animal and plants (weeds) is second only to habitat destruction as a cause of biodiversity loss, and cane toads are listed among the top 20 invasive vertebrates world wide. There has been a considerable focus on managing the invasion of the cane toad both overseas and in Australia. Unfortunately, the story is not good; the toad is predicted to extend across the entire northern savannah (eastern and western Kimberleys) to the northern edge of the Great Sandy Desert. Additionally, the southwest of WA and much of the east coast is also suitable habitat. Opinions on managing cane toads range from “no Australian animal has been shown to go extinct because of the toad, and we should not waste resources on this animal” to “it is a scourge that alters foodwebs and ecosystems” and should be removed without further consideration. Some of the scientific evidence and management strategies being perused in northern Australia will be discussed. However, it is bitter sweet irony that we have spent more and know more about toads than any of our native amphibians.
Payment: Can be recieved at the door, or via online pre-payment with Sticky Tickets (http://www.stickytickets.com.au/3130/The_Green_and_Golden_Bell_Frog_and_Cane_Toads_in_NSW.aspx)