AmphibiaWeb - Litoria nannotis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Litoria nannotis (Andersson, 1916)
Waterfall Frog, Torrent Tree Frog
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Pelodryadinae
genus: Litoria
Taxonomic Notes: Following the Australian Society of Herpetology, AmphibiaWeb uses Litoria instead of Ranoidea or Dryopsophus (contrary to Dubois and Fretey 2016 and Duellman et al 2016).
Litoria nannotis
© 2010 Eric Vanderduys (1 of 17)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Australia

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Population and Distribution
Litoria nannotis was found throughout the Wet Tropics Bioregion, North Qld, from Paluma to Cooktown (Hero & Fickling 1994) at altitudes between 180 and 1300 m (McDonald 1992). The area of occurrence of the species is approximately 9000 km2 (M. Cunningham pers. comm.). Litoria nannotis includes three deeply divergent mitochondrial DNA lineages, distributed from Paluma to Tully R., Tully R. to Lamb Range and Mt. Lewis to Big Tableland (Schneider et al. 1998). Litoria nannotis was first noted to have declined in 1990 (Richards et al. 1993). The species had apparently disappeared from most upland sites south of the Daintree R.. The species occurred at all lowland sites, and at upland sites north of the Daintree R. during summer surveys of 1991-1992. In 1994 it was sighted at several locations over 600m on Mt Father Clancy in February 1998 (Hero et al. in press). Lowland populations surveyed in Tully Gorge appeared to be relatively stable between 1995 and 1998 (Hero et al. in press). At the southern end of its range it was last observed in Mt Spec SF in 1991 (Richards et al. 1993) however adults occurred at a lower-elevation site in a different creek system (Crystal Creek Stone Bridge, 300m) from Jan. 1994 to Sep. 1995 (Hero unpublished data). This species is currently known to have stable populations at lowland sites (Hero et al. 1998, in press; McDonald & Alford 1999). Litoria nannotis is known from Cape Tribulation, Cedar Bay, Crater, Crater Lakes, Daintree, Lumholtz, Millstream, Paluma Range and Wooroonooran NP, Kirrama Range, Lamb Range, Maalan, Mt Baldy, Mt Lewis, Mt Spec, Tully and Windsor Tableland SF, Daintree Timber Reserve (165 Monkhouse) (Tyler 1997), Elizabeth Grant Falls, Millstream Falls, Mt Lee, Seaview Range NP (Wallaman Falls, Sword Ck., Garrawalt Falls), Cardwell Range, Ravenshoe SF (M. Cunningham pers. comm.).

Litoria nannotis is a habitat specialist endemic to the W.T. Bioregion (Williams & Hero 1998; 2001), a stream dwelling/breeding species (Hodgkison and Hero 2001). Litoria nannotis is restricted to rocky stream habitats in rainforest or wet sclerophyll forest where there is fast flowing water, waterfalls and cascades (Liem 1974; McDonald 1992). Unlike most stream-breeding frog species that live in the adjacent forest and use the stream habitat for breeding, the stream is the primary habitat for both male and females throughout the year (Hodgkison & Hero 2001; in press). On several occasions the adults and juveniles were noted to form small aggregations (4 � 6 individuals) amongst large boulders behind waterfalls (Liem 1974; J-M. Hero pers. obs.). Tadpoles are predominantly found in fast flowing sections of stream, in riffles or torrents, adhering to rocks (Richards 1992).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Gravid females and males with nuptial pads are encountered all year round (Martin & McDonald 1995). Unpigmented eggs 136-216 (1.98-3.4 mm diameter) are laid in gelatinous egg masses under rocks in water (Liem 1974; Hero & Fickling 1996). Liem (1974) described the tadpole and noted that it is one of the few species of tadpole known to exhibit adaptations to torrent environments of Australia, such as a streamlined body shape, large suctorial mouthparts and a muscular tail. Richards (1992) also provided information on the tadpoles of the L. nannotis group.

Adults feed indiscriminately on both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates (Hodgkinson and Hero in press). Their principal diet includes: Dipteran and Odonate (adults and larvae), Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Blattodea, Hymenoptera and Diplopoda (Hodgkinson and Hero in review).

Invasive species
Feral pigs are a potential cause of riparian habitat damage and adult frog mortality (Richards et al. 1993). The activity of feral pigs has been recorded to have increased over the period 1989-1992 in an area previously inhabited by L. nannotis (Richards et al. 1993). There is very little research, however, into the impact of feral pigs on native frog populations (Richards et al. 1993).

Liem (1974) observed large numbers of females residing near a stream and considered Litoria nannotis to be a true stream-dwelling anuran, unlikely to venture far from the stream. Hodgkison and Hero (2001) found that the species displayed distinctly different nocturnal and diurnal behaviour. During the day, nearly all frogs were restricted to the stream environment where they sheltered in small refuges behind waterfalls or wedged between rocks in the stream. On a small number of occasions individuals were located basking in splash zones beside waterfalls. At night frog activity increased substantially and frogs were located in exposed positions within the stream and some ventured away from the stream, amongst stream side vegetation. Frogs did not venture further than 15m from the stream and always returned before dawn.

Trends and Threats
Reason for decline unknown. Richards et al. (1993) reject drought, floods, habitat destruction or pollution by pesticides, inorganic ions or heavy metals. The habitat of the species in the Wet Tropics has been protected since 1988, therefore habitat destruction is no longer a threat (McDonald & Alford 1999). Current research is examining the possibility that disease, such as a viral infection or chytrid fungus, may have contributed to the decline of this species (Berger et al. 1999).


Berger, L., Speare, R. and Hyatt, A. (1999). ''Chytrid fungi and amphibian declines: overview, implications and future directions.'' Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. A. Campbell, eds., Environment Australia, Canberra, 23-33.

Hero, J-M., Hines, H.B., Meyer, E., Morrison, C., and Streatfeild, C. (1999). ''New records of 'declining' frogs in Queensland (April 1999).'' Frogs in the Community – Proceedings of the Brisbane Conference 13–14 February 1999. R. Natrass, eds., Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

Hero, J.-M. and Fickling, S. (1994). A Guide to the Stream-dwelling Frogs of the Wet Tropics Rainforests. James Cook University, Townsville.

Hero, J.-M. and Fickling, S. (1996). ''Reproductive characteristics of female frogs from mesic habitats in Queensland.'' Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 39, 306.

Hero, J.-M., Hines, H.B., Meyer, E., Morrison, C., Streatfeild, C., and Roberts, L. (1998). ''New records of 'declining' frogs in Queensland, Australia.'' Froglog, 29, 1-4.

Hodgkison, S. C. and Hero, J.-M. (2003). ''Seasonal, sexual and ontogenetic variations in the diet of the declining frogs, Litoria nannotis, L. rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi.'' Wildlife Research, 30, 345-354.

Hodgkison, S.C. and Hero, J.-M. (2001). ''Daily behaviour and microhabitat use of the Waterfall Frog, Litoria nannotis in Tully Gorge, eastern Australia.'' Journal of Herpetology, 35(1), 166-120.

Hodgkison, S.C. and Hero, J.-M. (2002). ''Seasonal behaviour of Litoria nannotis, Litoria rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi in Tully Gorge, north Queensland, Australia.'' Frogs in the Community – Proceedings of the Brisbane Conference 13-14 Feb 1999. A. E. O. Nattrass, eds., Queensland Frog Society, Incorporated, Brisbane.

Martin, W.F. and McDonald, K.R. (1995). Draft Recovery Plan for the Threatened Stream-dwelling Frogs of the Wet Tropics. Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage, Brisbane.

McDonald, K. and Alford, R. (1999). ''A review of declining frogs in northern Queensland.'' Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs. A. Campbell, eds., Environment Australia, Canberra. Available in .pdf format online.

McDonald, K.R. (1992). ''Distribution patterns and conservation status of north Queensland rainforest frogs.'' Conservation Technical Report No. 1. Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage, Queensland.

Richards, S. J., McDonald, K. R., and Alford, R. A. (1993). ''Declines in populations of Australia's endemic rainforest frogs.'' Pacific Conservation Biology, 1, 66-77.

Richards, S.J. (1992). ''The tadpole of the Australian frog Litoria nyakalensis (Anura: Hylidae), and a key to the torrent tadpoles of northern Queensland.'' Alytes, 10(3), 99-103.

Schneider, C.J., Cunningham, M., and Moritz, C. (1998). ''The comparative phylogeography and the history of endemic vertebrates in the Wet Tropics rainforests of Australia.'' Molecular Ecology, 7, 487-498.

Williams, S. E., and Hero, J. M. (1998). "Rainforest frogs of the Australian wet tropics: Guild classification and the ecological similarity of declining species." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences, 265(1396), 597-602.

Williams, S.E. and Hero, J.-M. (2001). ''Multiple determinants of Australian tropical frog biodiversity.'' Biological Conservation, 98, 1-10.

Originally submitted by: Jean-Marc Hero et. al. (first posted 2002-03-15)
Edited by: Ambika Sopory, Jean-Marc Hero (2008-09-18)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2008 Litoria nannotis: Waterfall Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 14, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 14 Jul 2024.

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