Close but no cigar in hunt for elusive frog

A FROG with a brown body mottled with green that was spotted in Coffs Harbour raised the interest of an amphibian expert on the hunt for an elusive species last seen four decades ago.

Dr Jodi Rowley, Australian Museum's amphibian and biology curator, was quick to point out however the frog snapped in Coffs was not the peppered tree frog.

She said it could be one of two species - the Peron's or Tyler's tree frog which look very similar.

Dr Rowley, who just returned from an expedition hunting for the peppered tree frog at Glenn Innes said both species were pretty common unlike her more elusive query.

"It's actually in many ways easier to identify frogs by recording them," she said.

According to the Australian Museum, the peppered tree frog grows to about 3cm, is critically endangered and was last confirmed seen in the 1970s.

ELUSIVE SPECIES: The peppered tree frog was last confirmed seen in the 1970s.
ELUSIVE SPECIES: The peppered tree frog was last confirmed seen in the 1970s. Marion Anstis

Dr Rowley said there was very little known about the species and it could be found outside her area of search, focusing around the rocky streams of the New England Tablelands.

She was unfruitful in her search for the endangered frog this year but said she would continue her hunt next summer which is when the peppered tree frog breeds.

Dr Rowley said she suspected a fungus was responsible for the species' decline.

"Amphibian chytrid fungus is responsible for wiping out four frog species around the world," she said.

"Amphibians are the most threatened land animal species."

Dr Rowley said frogs were highly susceptible to environmental changes due to their absorbent skin.



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