At the request of the State Government, Bonorong is studying and attempting to breed the Tasmanian Tree Frog for the first time in captivity.
Amphibian populations in Tasmania are at risk from the spread of the fungal infection chytridiomycosis, which is responsible for the extinction and population declines of hundreds of species around the world. The Tasmanian Tree Frog lives predominantly in the South West Wilderness World Heritage Area and while this is one of the most secluded places in the world, chytrid has already been found in the region. With very low population numbers reported for the Tasmanian Tree Frog, it is feared that the species could be heavily and quickly impacted if infected by chytrid. Trials have shown that this species is as susceptible to chytrid infection as any frog in the world.
This situation means that maintaining a captive insurance population and attempting to breed the species has taken on a new urgency. Bonorong has already begun this pioneering work but a larger and better equipped facility is needed to continue. So little is known about the species that the research being undertaken is essential if management and conservation measures are to be effective.
Chytrid – a global epidemic:
⋅ The disease caused by the chytrid fungus affects amphibians and has been called “the worst infectious disease ever recorded among vertebrates in terms of the number of species impacted, and its propensity to drive them to extinction”.
⋅ The fungus now exists on every continent where amphibians live. It is spread through water and soil and is therefore very difficult to quarantine
⋅ For more information on chytrid, click here
The Tasmanian Tree Frog – a key target:
⋅ Veterinary testing with chytrid has revealed this frog to be one of the most susceptible species on the planet; it is rated as “very high” risk by the Tasmanian Government.
⋅ In areas of Tasmania where the fungus has reached the tree frog appears to have been lost within a few years
⋅ The Tasmanian Tree Frog has a highly restricted range, mostly contained in the (at present) chytrid-free South West World Heritage Area. It is our hope that we can keep the fungus out of this region.
⋅ If we can’t, the species will be at risk of extinction in the wild and the knowledge and skills we build up in our breeding program may be the only lifeline for this animal.