Improving ecological surveys of Australian frogs

Heinemann, Mickayla (2021) Improving ecological surveys of Australian frogs. Honours thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)

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Many of Australia’s native frog species are threatened with extinction due to increasing pressure from disease, predation by invasive species and habitat destruction. As such, it is critical that ecological surveys provide accurate frog population diversity and abundance estimates to allow frog populations trends to be monitored over time, and conservation protocols implemented where possible. However, current survey methods to determine frog diversity are limited in their reliability and accuracy. Thus, it is critical that the limitations of current frog survey methods be recognized and reduced where possible. This study aimed to determine if survey methods from frog surveys could be improved by: (1) implementing artificial light as an attractant for frog prey species in conjunction with pitfall traps, (2) trialling a new method of surveying arboreal frog species, (3) testing the accuracy of a photographic identification software for individual toad identification; and by (4) providing observational data regarding potential occurrence of predation of frogs and other animals from pitfall traps.

A combination of pitfall traps in conjunction with artificial light (pit-light traps), and PVC pipe and bamboo refugia were used to survey frog populations across two trapping sites on a property in southeast Queensland. The resulting capture rate of native frogs in pit-light traps was used to determine the efficacy of artificial light to increase the capture rate of frog species in pitfall traps. PVC pipe and bamboo artificial refugia, as a method to survey arboreal frog species was trialled, demonstrating proof of concept, and opening pathways for future research. The use of photographic identification software (I3S) was used to determine its viability as a non-invasive method of individual identification of cane toads. With further software development, and sufficient sample sizes, such methods may be utilised in mark-recapture studies to individually identify species that have unique patterns. Furthermore, the study provided observational data that suggests vertebrate predation from pitfall traps may be a potential factor influencing frog capture rates in pitfall traps.

Methods to improve frog surveys were trialled, with limitations of each method highlighted and discussed. Further avenues of research were highlighted to further improve the reliability and accuracy of frog surveys. These methods provide a means to improve current knowledge of frog population trends and inform where conservation and habitat management projects are required.

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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Honours)
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Sciences (6 Sep 2019 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Murray, Peter; Hudson, Nick; Brady, Megan
Qualification: Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Environment and Sustainability)
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2023 23:32
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2023 23:32
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology

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