Scientist searches for Peppered Tree frog

Searching: Amphibian and reptile conservation biology curator from the Australian Museum, Jodi Rowley is searching the area for a critically endangered frog.

Searching: Amphibian and reptile conservation biology curator from the Australian Museum, Jodi Rowley is searching the area for a critically endangered frog.

It’s been over 40 years since the Peppered Tree frog was spotted in the New England.

This week, amphibian and reptile conservation biology curator from the Australian Museum, Jodi Rowley is on the hunt for the threatened species.

Funded by an environmental trust grant, it involves searching for three frog species within NSW.

“[The frog] was found in a few sites between Armidale and Glen Innes,” Ms Rowley said.

“It was described as a new species in the 80’s and since then we haven’t been able to find it.

“There have been some people looking but nothing of the scale we’re doing now.”

Ms Rowley said she was calling for landowners to be on the lookout for the critically endangered species throughout the course of her two-year search.

“They’re about three centimeters big, olive and brown colour skin … we don’t know what call it makes,” Ms Rowley said.

“We’re looking for clear, fast-flowing streams over rocks and bolders along with some stream-side vegetation.

“We expect that it breeds in summer … but we don’t know if it will be at other times.

“We’re looking at protected areas … between Glen Innes, Armidale and Guyra.

“Most places we expect they might be are on private land … we’re asking landholders with streams to let us have a look because they are tricky to distinguish.

“We are just piecing together a bit of a puzzle at the moment.

“It’s a very high elevation specialist, so we think it’s about 1000 metres high in the rocky, flowing streams.

“We know exact sites [where the frog was last seen] at Diehard Creek and Blue Hole and there’s also some sites near Pinkett and Kookabookra and that’s it.”

Ms Rowley said the Peppered Tree Frog had the most restricted distribution of any breed and was special for this area, which is why researchers are so keen to track it down.

“We think its biggest threat is a disease that impacts stream frogs as well as land development,” Ms Rowley said.

“A lot of frogs are bouncing back [from extinction] so hopefully these ones are too.”

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