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Litoria daviesae
Davies' Tree Frog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Pelodryadinae

© 2007 Kellie Whittaker (1 of 1)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Vulnerable (VU)
See IUCN account.
CITES No CITES Listing
Other International Status Considered Vulnerable by Australia as well as IUCN
National Status None
Regional Status None

   

Description
Litoria daviesae (Davies’ Tree Frog) is a small Australian tree frog, first described by Mahony et al. (2001) as a new member of the Litoria citropa complex. Litoria daviesae can be distinguished from all members of the Litoria citropa species group except L. citropa and L. subglandulosa by the presence of a supratympanic fold and submandibular gland. In contrast to L. citropa, L. davisae lacks vocal sacs and has a hidden tympanum, plus a more sparse distribution of warts.

Litoria daviesae can be distinguished from the closely related species Litoria subglandulosa by color, skin texture and adult size, as well as mitochondrial DNA and allozyme profiles. Litoria daviesae coloration varies from golden brown with scattered dark mottling on the dorsum, to having some green patches. It has a narrow dark-brown stripe from the snout through the eye, which broadens along the side before breaking up into patches; a broad green stripe under the eye, from the nasal area to the shoulder; and a white stripe along the upper lip. The dorsal skin texture of L. daviesae is lightly shagreened (small raised bumps) in most specimens, rather than smooth; ventrally, the texture is slightly granular (Mahony et al. 2001). Adult L. daviesae can reach a greater maximum size (53 mm SVL for males, 63 mm SVL for females) compared to L. subglandulosa. In contrast to L. daviesae, L. subglandulosa is predominantly green, with smooth skin, and a smaller maximum size (40 mm SVL for males, 50 mm SVL for females) (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996; Mahony et al. 2001).

Litoria daviesae tadpoles share a unique larval mouthpart morphology with the closely related L. subglandulosa. The tadpole mouth is subterminal, funnel-shaped, lacks a keratinized (horny) beak and denticles (teeth), and is surrounded by long papillae (Tyler and Anstis 1975). This larval mouthpart morphology distinguishes tadpoles of these two species from all other Australo-Papuan hylids (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Australia

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
Litoria daviesae has a restricted distribution within the province of New South Wales, Australia. It is narrowly distributed along the eastern side of the great escarpment of the Great Dividing Range and the tablelands. From north to south it is found within a range of about 150 km, between the catchment of the Hastings River to north of the Hunter River (Mahony et al. 2001).

Litoria daviesae prefers well-vegetated upland riparian habitats, above 400 m in elevation (Mahony et al. 2001). This contrasts with L. subglandulosa, which is not found at elevations below 600 m (NSW NPWS 1994). Adult L. daviesae frogs occur adjacent to permanently flowing streams with varying water flow and depth. Streamside vegetation type depends on location of the preferred streams, with wet sclerophyll and rainforest dominating for those streams found in deep gullies or along the escarpment of the Great Dividing Range. In the tablelands, streams populated by L. daviesae typically have tea tree, ferns, and tussocks as adjacent vegetation, and dry open forest or heath as surrounding vegetation (Mahony et al. 2001).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Anstis and Littlejohn (1996) have described the calls and calling patterns for L. daviesae (their "southern" populations of L. subglandulosa). During breeding season (October/November), adult males can be found calling singly or in small groups along preferred stream sites. Both daytime and nighttime calling are common during breeding season, with daytime calls made from hiding places within vegetation or crevices, or under rocks, and nighttime calls made from trees and shrubs about 0.5 to 1.5 m. above streams. The calls of L. daviesae and L. subglandulosa are reported to be very similar (Anstis and Littlejohn 1996).


A recorded call can be found here: Litoria daviesae sound file

This species does not appear to be abundant. It has a limited distribution, and although the species has been described from 18 different localities, reports usually indicate small populations and low numbers of frogs collected (Mahony et al. 2001).

Trends and Threats
This species has been described only relatively recently, so little is known about present vs. past distribution. However, it is not abundant, and additionally appears to be in decline in at least one region, between the Hastings and Manning Rivers (Anstis (1997); originally reported as southern populations of L. subglandulosa, before recognition by Mahony et al. (2001) as L. daviesae). Litoria daviesae may be at risk for local extinction, due to small population size, isolation and limited distribution of known populations.

Threats to L. daviesae populations include: habitat loss and fragmentation, due to clearing for agriculture and forestry activities; possible predation on eggs and tadpoles by exotic fish; degradation of water quality, from forestry and agriculture practices, and potential alterations in stream flows, due to agriculture, development, or forestry practices (Mahony et al. 2001). Susceptibility to amphibian chytrid fungus is also likely to be a threat to L. daviesae, as chytridiomycosis is widespread in eastern New South Wales and appears to preferentially affect stream frog species (Mahony 2000). However, no infections have been reported for L. daviesae through January 26, 2005 (Speare and Berger 2005).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Habitat fragmentation
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Predators (natural or introduced)
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena

References

Anstis, M (1997). ''25. Glandular Frog, Litoria subglandulosa.'' Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation. H. Ehmann, eds., Frog and Tadpole Study Group of NSW, Sydney, 213-221.

Anstis, M. and Littlejohn, M.J. (1996). ''The breeding biology of Litoria subglandulosa and L. citropa (Anura: Hylidae), and a re-evaluation of their geographic distribution.'' Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 120, 83-99.

Mahony M., Knowles R., Foster R., and Donnellan, S. (2001). ''Systematics of the Litoria citropa (Anura: Hylidae) complex in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, Australia, with the description of a new species.'' Records of the Australian Museum, 53, 37-48.

Mahony, M. (2000). ''Prevalence of chytrid in populations of frogs in eastern New South Wales.'' Getting the Jump on Amphibian Diseases: Conference and Workshop Compendium in Cairns, 44.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (1994). Fauna of North-East N.S.W. Forests. North East Forests Biodiversity Report No. 3. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

Speare, R., and L. Berger. Chytridiomycosis status of wild amphibians in Australia. 26 Jan. 2005. James Cook University. 2 Mar. 2007 <http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/phtm/PHTM/frogs/chy-au-status.htm>

Tyler, M.J. and Anstis, M. (1975). ''Taxonomy and biology of frogs of the Litoria citropa complex (Anura: Hylidae).'' Records of the South Australian Museum , 17(5), 41-50.



Written by Kellie Whittaker (biologist AT earthlink.net), UC Berkeley
First submitted 2007-03-02
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2008-01-02)



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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed: Jul 24, 2016).

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