Fleay's barred frog
Fleay's barred frog Photo: B Manning, EHP
Common name: Fleay’s barred frog
Scientific name: Mixophyes fleayi
Family: Myobatrachidae (Australian water frogs)
Conservation status: This species is listed as Endangered in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nationally (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). It is considered a low priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.
Fleay’s barred frog is a large burrowing frog with a steeply sloped, blunt snout. They are light to dark brown in colour with indistinct darker marbling. A dark brown Y-shaped vertebral band with irregular edges starts between the eyes and extends to the groin, sometimes breaking up into a series of blotches along the mid-line. The sides are grey-brown, fading to yellow at the rear and overlaid by a series of black spots.
There is an irregular dark band running from the nostrils through the eye to a point behind the external ear opening. The ear opening is large and oval-shaped, sloping backwards. There is a dark purple patch beneath the eye and the upper lip is usually mottled brown. The pupil is vertical and in adults the upper part of the iris may be straw-brown through to light blue to silvery-white. In sub-adults the upper third of the iris is flame orange
The underside and limbs are yellow and the throat and inner thighs may be speckled with brown. Males have a vocal sac. The thighs are grey-brown, with 7-8 narrow, black cross-bands. The fingers are unwebbed, slightly expanded at the tips, while the toes are half-webbed. The soles and palms are black. Fleay’s barred-frog has snout-vent length of 63-89 mm.
Habitat and distribution
Fleay’s barred frog has a narrow and disjunct distribution in wet forests from the Conondale Range, south-east Queensland (SEQ) to Tooloom Scrub, New South Wales. They can occur from near sea level to approximately 1000 m altitude, but are most commonly recorded at mid-elevation sites between 400 and 800 m.
Adults may be found in leaf litter and along watercourses in rainforest and adjoining wet sclerophyll forests. Males call from rocks in streams, or from pools at the margins of these streams, or from the forest floor. Females have been located several hundred metres from breeding sites.
Life history and behaviour
The Fleay’s barred frog has two distinct calls, a throaty "ok-ok-ok-ok-ok-ok" made by solitary males, and a long, rasping "arrrrrrrr", or growling call given in chorus.
During favourable conditions this frog forms aggregations, from late winter to early autumn, with breeding recorded in all months from July to March. Egg-laying takes place in shallow fast-flowing zones of streams. The female lays the eggs as a single layer on bedrock in flat, shallow sections of a stream, or forms a small depression amongst submerged leaf litter or gravel, and fastens the eggs to the walls of this nest. The tadpole of Fleay’s barred-frog grows to about 100 mm and has a fusiform body, with a tail twice as long as the body.
The diet of Fleay’s barred frog is unknown, but is likely to consist largely of invertebrates from the forest floor. Tadpoles feed on bottom sediment, algae, detritus, fallen fruit and carrion.
Fleay’s barred frog is one of five species of upland stream-dwelling frog which has declined in South-east Queensland. This species experienced a significant population decline in the Conondale and Border Ranges during the early 1990's. Recent surveys have located small populations at several locations throughout the former range. The causes of this and similar declines in the frog fauna of South-east Queensland remain unknown. As declines have occurred in undisturbed and disturbed rainforest, it is unlikely to be solely the result of habitat disturbance.
Suspected threatening processes include:
- Habitat loss through clearing, timber harvesting and urban development
- Degradation of water quality and riparian vegetation arising from logging, grazing, weed invasion and pollution
- Predation by feral pigs
James Cook University provides information on amphibian disease investigations and management.
Future recovery actions
- Review the national recovery plan for stream frogs of south-east Queensland
- Implement threat abatement plans
- Control riparian weeds with ecologically sensitive weed control measures
- Study threatening processes, especially the role of amphibian chytrid fungus.
- Monitor populations
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Berger L, Speare R, Daszak P, Green DE, Cunningham AA, Goggin CL, Slocombe R, and Parkes H. 1998. Chytridiomycosis causes amphibian mortality associated with population declines in the rain forests of Australia and Central America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 95, 9031-9036.
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Hines HB and the South-east Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team. 2002. Recovery plan for stream frogs of south-east Queensland 2001 2005. Report to Environment Australia, Canberra. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.