By Elaine Bayes, WetMAP field scientist
The autumn/winter 2020 WetMAP frog surveys have just been completed. We carried out surveys in three wetlands in the North Central catchment and seven in the Goulburn-Broken catchment, following environmental watering in autumn/winter.
It was a tad on the cold side (for us, not the frogs!) and my partner Damien Cook and I camped out at the wetlands for around two weeks. The night time survey temperatures were between 9-11°, but the rewards were worth the chilly fingers. Crisp, clear night skies and a feeling of awe as we stood quietly on the edge of the wetland, torches off, listening to the frog calls piercing the sharp air.
As well as environmental water, many sites had a helping hand from autumn and winter rains. Doctors Swamp in Murchison looked stunning, as run-off from substantial rain had stimulated the growth of abundant aquatic plants and aquatic food webs were kicked into action by the addition of water and nutrients.
Doctors Swamp and Moodies Swamp, which are two of the most ecologically and hydrologically (flooding/drying regime) intact wetlands in the region, had the most frog species this season, with 4 and 5 species present respectively.
Seven species of frog were detected during the May to July 2020 surveys, some of which were different to those heard or seen during summer surveys.
Different frog species call at different times of year, so as well as the common species which we hear all year round, we were excited to see and hear the Painted Burrowing Frog (Neobatrachus sudelli), a particularly photogenic species (if a bit comical looking) that is usually buried in the soil but emerges after rain events. If you look closely, they actually have a spade-like structure on the hind foot for digging!
The black “spade” of a Painted Burrowing Frog Neobatrachus sudelli
(also known as the Spadefoot Frog).
Painted Burrowing Frog Neobatrachus sudelli
So rug up and happy frogging. ‘Til next time when we will be raving about the heat and the mossies!