Facts About Frog Decline

There are around 4750 described species of frog [hopefully], alive on the planet today and with more being discovered at regular intervals you would think that we'd know pretty much all there is to know about our little croaky mates - but you'd be wrong.

White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata) from our garden

It seems a part of human nature that the more 'common' something is the greater our assumption that somebody out there knows all about it and the information is stored somewhere should we ever care to look. You might be surprised to know that actually science knows only the rudiments of frog physiology and behaviour - despite having been used in dissection classes for decades.

The problem is that certain species of frogs are indeed well studied and documented, however many more are not, especially those that are only just being recognised. Such as Veitnams Quang's Tree Frog (Gracixalus quangi). A species discovered by Jodi Rowley of the Australian Museum in 2011. The males of this species have a hyperextended vocal repertoire—in other words, they don't just repeat the same call over and over, but use a number of types of calls ... (source).

Have a listen:

All very groovy.

But there is I'm afraid a fly in the ointment (slight pun intended). You see just as we're getting to know these frogs they're dying out at an astonishing rate.

The GAA analyzed all 5,743 amphibian species known to science. They found that:

At least 1,856 species are considered threatened with extinction, representing 32 percent of all amphibian species. By comparison, 12 percent of birds and 23 percent of mammals are threatened.

At least nine species have gone extinct since 1980. Another 113 species have not been found in recent years and are considered to be possibly extinct. Scientists suspect that many species have declined due to chytridiomycosis, a disease found primarily in the Americas, the Caribbean and Australia. These numbers suggest that we are experiencing an epidemic number of extinctions – hundreds of thousands of years’ worth in just a century.

43 percent of all species are in population decline – fewer than one percent are increasing. Twenty-seven percent are stable and the rest are unknown.

427 species are considered Critically Endangered (CR), 761 are Endangered (EN) and 668 are Vulnerable (VU).

Scientists estimate that the conservation status of 435 amphibian species has worsened since 1980. source

The causes are varied: disease, climate change, pollution, habitat loss and Jeremy Clarkson are but a few (I'm joking, no doubt Mr Clarkson likes frogs - who doesn't like frogs?).

Still, the sad fact remains that while our politicians wring their hands and our wallets - very little is being done to reverse this trend. In fact, if you go into the bush here in Far North Queensland your chances of seeing a frog are actually quite remote. The bush is getting quieter and more still. Bird life, marsupials - reptiles and of course amphibians are slipping deeper into an undergrowth that can no longer support them - yet mining leases are seemingly rubber stamped - poisons (insecticides/herbicides) continue to be sprayed (both legally and illegally), with wanton abandon and all the while, a clock is ticking ...

Support our little mates eh?

So what can be done?. By you - right now at home, with virtually no cost to yourself?. How about cutting down on poisons round the yard (there ya go - that'll actually save you money). Maybe set aside a section of the garden that encourages frogs (a little permanent water, some plants etc - it doesn't have to be Walden Pond, use your imagination). When your cat dies replace it with a garden gnome.

And here's a wild idea - if you're of a political bent why not let your employees (that is the people you elect), know - that you know, that an indicator species is in steady decline and ask them just what the hell they're doing about it.

Now, before you race off - do me a small favour, scroll back up to the pic of the white-lip again and take a good long look - cause if we all don't do something soon, the facts quoted in this post suggest that pics such as these are all we'll soon have left to admire ...

Take care :) - Paul


  1. Great blog and wonderful photo.

  2. Cheers D - doesn't hold a candle to your amazingly detailed and informative blog, but I enjoy the hell out of it - thanks once again for the lovely comment.

    Take care.


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