Dr Arthur White, president of the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group (FATS), looks at how long-term data collection can produce positive results for the environment. FATS is a community group so it has member who range from everyday families to professional herpetologists and academics. FATS has always tried to have a semi-scientific focus and has a long term project that is a good example of what citizen science can achieve. FATS has had regular field trips since 1983 to an area on the northern side of Smith’s Lake, the Wallingat State Forest. The forest has large numbers of animals including 14 threatened species, seven of which were first identified by FATS members’ information ánd are recorded into the NSW Wildlife Atlas as a result of the data reported by FATS. In the early 1990s the state government was interested in creating new national parks around areas of high regional biodiversity. They used the Wildlife Atlas and ultimately gazetted the state forest to become Wallingat National Park based on those fauna records.
Dr Arthur White, president of the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group (FATS), looks at the history of Australian women working on frogs. People have worked on Australian frogs since the 1830s but the names of any women don’t appear until the 1970s, 140 years later! Arthur describes the exceptional work of five such women who in the earlier examples, sadly received no formal academic recognition of their outstanding scientific contributions. There was a tradition that only certain people could put their names on publications, along with a hierarchy of whose names could go where, so technicians and other non-academic appointments didn’t get a look in. Arthur briefly describes the cutting edge work and findings of seven outstanding ‘girl guides!
Dr Arthur White, president of the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group (FATS), delivers some good news on a newly described species of frog. The big news in the frog world is that five more species of frog have been found and described in Australia, one new species being found on the east coast of NSW in areas that are highly populated. The species has been given the name of Mahonyï¿½s toadlet, named in honour of Professor Michael Mahony from the University of Newcastle.
Dr Arthur White reports on the rediscovery of a frog in an Indian rainforest, one which has carved out a very un-frog like niche. Only two specimens of the frog were known and the species was presumed extinct. That changed recently when living examples were discovered. The frogs rarely come to ground. The females spawn in multiple tiny hollows in the side of trees, each hollow having some water from the rainforest rains. As the tadpoles develop the mother revisits the hollows and squirts out unfertilised eggs as food. The tadpoles feed on this until they are large enough to metamorphose, a great example of parental care in frogs
Dr Arthur White, President of the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group, examines the effects of climate change on Australian frogs and the outlook is not good. Over the last ten years a lot of the climate change models have been continuously refined and the algorithms used today are capable of combining data from diverse sources to produce a unified model. Now the models can predict the effects of climate change on particular areas and can look at changes 50 or 100 or 200 years into the future. Using global models, temperature and rainfall patterns in Australia will change but it won’t be uniform. Some parts of Australia will be being subject to far greater changes, southern Australia being one of the worst areas. This is due not to rising temperatures but to the loss of dependable rainfall, some areas suffering quite badly. Northern Australia will have an increase in temperature but it will also have an increase in rainfall.
Dr Arthur White, President of the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group, brings a good news story about the ability of youth to do something positive and scientifically ground-breaking. Recently the prize-winners in the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards were announced and the winner of the category for school students comes on the back of something extraordinary.
Dr Arthur White, from the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group (FATS) brings news of a herbicide that affects frogs – atrazine. This chemical is a commonly used herbicide in America and Australia, it being effective and relatively cheap. Atrazine was banned in Europe in 2003 because of the high rates of prostate cancer and breast cancer among people who lived in areas where it had been used. While a lot of it enters plants (it is a herbicide) some of it is washed into creeks, streams and in some cases town drinking water.
Frog ice blocks: Australian desert frogs survive often many months of extreme heat and drought by constructing elaborate systems of tunnels and burrows under the desert floor; and by cutting their metabolic rates and slowing heartbeat of about one beat a minute. However these feats pale in comparison to the extremes endured by the Wood Frog, native to North America, where in this freezing and often frozen environment, there is no food for about eight month of the year. The frog survives even though, anatomical studies show the outer skin and muscles actually freeze. However, the inner core does not freeze thanks to the production of a kind of antifreeze although the heart rate falls to two slow drawn out beats per hour.
Update August 2018 ...File now closed Where are the Painted Desert Frogs in NSW ...not there! One of the problems for the Painted desert frog (Neobatrachus) is that there is another species that looks similar and occurs in NSW. When people claimed to have heard this desert burrowing frog in the far south west of NSW it got recorded on the Wildlife Atlas as a positive record. Dr White was suspicious because the habitat there was not right. He has visited several times and is convinced they are not there!
The skins of frogs have various antifungal and antibacterial agents, something which has been known since the 15th and 16th Centuries. Dr Arthur White, from the NSW Frog and Tadpole Study Group, explains how frog secretions can form the basis for useful chemical compounds.
Dr Arthur White delves back into frog history and comes up with some surprising information about the early topography of Sydney and the consequent effects of expanding settlement on the native landscape. There used to be at least 20 species - not surprising given that south of the harbour was a wetland wonder.