AMPHIBIAWEB
Litoria aurea
Green and Golden Bell Frog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Pelodryadinae

© 2008 Dr. Peter Janzen (1 of 9)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Vulnerable (VU)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status None
National Status Vulnerable in the Action Plan for Australian Frogs, published by the Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA).
Regional Status 'Threatened' in New South Wales by schedule 12 of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (NPWC, 1975).

   

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Litoria aurea?

Add your own observation of
Litoria aurea »

Description
Green above with irregular bronze colored blotches, although there is variation in hues and the degree of blotching. Dorso-lateral skin fold is creamy, running from eye to groin though sometimes discontinuous. It is paralleled by a black canthal stripe that begins at the nostril and extends over the conspicuous tympanum to the groin. A white glandular stripe extends from the mouth to the base of the forearm. Flanks are brown with cream spots, and limbs are bronze to brown in color. Hind-side of thighs and groin are bright blue, and the belly is whitish. The skin is relatively smooth above, and it is granular below. Fingers lack webbing, while toes are almost fully webbed, and discs are conspicuous on both. Between the internal nasal openings (choanae), vomerine teeth are distinct. A pectoral fold is present (Cogger 1996).

Reproductively mature males have thumbs that are swollen through the development of nuptial pads (Pyke 1999). Males range from 57 to 69 mm, while females range from 65 to 108 mm in length. Larvae are large at metamorphosis, with a high tail fin and heavy pigmentation, typical of Litoria (Barker et al. 1995).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Australia. Introduced: New Caledonia, New Zealand, Vanuatu.

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
Found primarily at lower altitudes in eastern and southeastern New South Wales, Australia, as well as far eastern Victoria. It has been introduced to New Zealand and a number of other Pacific Islands where it is locally abundant (Medway and Marshall 1975).

Prefers freshwater habitat, where the water bodies are still, shallow, unshaded, ephemeral, and unpolluted (Pyke and White 1996). Inhabited water bodies are generally isolated and free of native fish species. Individuals disperse and forage over large areas, and diverse terrestrial habitats. Emergent aquatic vegetation, such as reeds and rushes, furnish foraging and basking habitat, and nearby grassy areas provide the principal feeding ground (Pyke 1999).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
These frogs are non-climbers, and are commonly found perched on aquatic vegetation near breeding sites. Individuals are active during the day, and breed during the summertime (October though March, though as early as August). Males call from the water. Females deposit between three and ten thousand eggs in a floating gelatinous mat, which sinks after 6-12 hours. Tadpoles hatch around two days, and immature froglets appear around two months (Pyke 1990).

Tadpole diet includes bacteria, algae and organic detritus, while adult frogs feed on almost anything, including insects and other frogs (Pyke 1990). In short, the frogs are a voracious, cannibalistic species.

Their deep growling call has been described as a slow gutteral four-part 'craw-awk, crawk, crok, crok' (Cogger 1996).

Trends and Threats
During the 1950's, Green and Golden Bell Frogs were abundant throughout New South Wales, in such numbers that they were commonly collected for dissection experiments and as food for captive snakes (White and Pyke 1996). Rapid declines were first noticed in the early 1990's, and extensive surveying has been conducted to locate sites and document population trends. The research of White and Pyke (1996) indicated a severe loss of populations throughout New South Wales after 1990, specifically the disappearance of frogs from 113 of a recorded 137 sites. The best long-term documentation comes from White's population records of the Eastlakes in Sydney, demonstrating a consistent decline from 138 adult frogs in 1968 to only 3 in 1993 (White and Pyke 1996).

The most probable causes for decline include habitat fragmentation, drainage alteration, and the introduction of predatory fish. A number of studies have shown correlation between L. aurea declines and the increasing distribution of Gambusia holbrooki (the "Mosquito Fish"), a native to North America that was introduced to control mosquito larvae. Morgan and Buttemer (1996) conducted laboratory experiments which demonstrated the high susceptibility of L. aurea tadpoles to predation by G. holbrooki, particularly small, newly hatched tadpoles. UVB experimentation (van de Mortel and Buttemer 1996) has not demonstrated any significant susceptibility of L. aurea to radiation exposure.

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat fragmentation
Predators (natural or introduced)

Comments

Featured in Amazing Amphibians on 2 December 2013

References
 

Barker, J., Grigg, G. C., and Tyler, M. J. (1995). A Field Guide to Australian Frogs. Surrey Beatty and Sons, New South Wales.  

Cogger, H. G. (1996). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books Australia, Port Melbourne.  

Medway, L. and Marshall, A. G. (1975). ''Terrestrial vertebrates of the New Hebrides: origin and distribution.'' Philosphical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B., 272, 423-65.  

Morgan, L. A., and Buttemer, W. A. (1996). ''Predation by the non-native fish Gambusia holbrooki on small Litoria aurea and L. dentata tadpoles.'' Australian Zoologist, 30(2), 143-149.  

Pyke, G. H. (1999). ''Green and Golden Bell Frog.'' Nature Australia, 26(4), 50-59.  

Pyke, G. H. and White, A. W. (1996). ''Habitat requirements for the Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea (Anura: Hylidae).'' Australian Zoologist, 30(2), 224-232.  

Van De Mortel, T. F., and Buttemer, W. A. (1996). ''Are Litoria aurea eggs more sensitive to ultraviolet-B radiation than eggs of sympatric L. peronii or L. dentata?'' Australian Zoologist, 30(2), 150-157.  

White, A. W. and Pyke, G. H. (1996). ''Distribution and conservation status of the Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea in New South Wales.'' Australian Zoologist, 30(2), 177-189.



Written by J-M. Hero; W. Osborne; R. Goldingay; K. McCray; L. Shoo; M. (m.hero AT mailbox.gu.edu.au), Griffith University
First submitted 1999-05-06
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2014-03-05)



Feedback or comments about this page.

 

Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2014. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Sep 1, 2014).

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.