Terrestrial plant and animal species: Reptiles and amphibians

2016

Reptiles and amphibians

As was the case in SoE 2011, there has been little improvement in the status of listed reptile and amphibian taxa at the national level. However, some species are known to be performing better than previously thought—this is because increased survey effort has revealed greater ranges or additional, previously unknown populations. Examples are Allan’s lerista (Lerista allanae), pygmy bluetongue lizard (Tiliqua adelaidensis), Eungella torrent frog (Taudactylus eungellensis) and waterfall frog (Litoria nannotis). Numerous species have been delisted or downlisted in state and territory legislation, whereas others have been uplisted. For example, in Queensland, 30 amphibians and reptiles were downlisted in December 2014, and 21 species were uplisted in August 2015. The uplistings include 3 from endangered to extinct, although these species were long recognised by the scientific community as being extinct.

A close-up photo of a waterfall frog sitting on a log.

A close-up photo of a waterfall frog sitting on a log.

The nationally endangered waterfall frog (Litoria nannotis) is endemic to the Wet Tropics of Queensland. 

Photo: Eric Vanderduys

The Christmas Island forest skink (Emoia nativitatis) has become extinct since 2011, with the last remaining captive individual dying on 31 May 2014 (Woinarski et al. 2017). Limited monitoring indicates that the species declined rapidly (along with other native reptiles on Christmas Island) after the late 1980s. The forest skink was listed as critically endangered in January 2014, only 4 months before its extinction. Two other Christmas Island reptiles are now considered extinct in the wild (see Box BIO10).

In contrast to the situation for mammals and birds, no new national action plans have been developed for amphibians and reptiles since SoE 2011. Both The action plan for Australian frogs (Tyler 1997) and The action plan for Australian reptiles (Cogger et al. 1993) are out of date. The action plan for Australian frogs, for example, was published before chytridiomycosis was identified as the likely cause of many frog declines and extinctions (Figure BIO22), and before the description of the pathogenic species Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (see Pathogens).

Leaf-tailed gecko (Phyllurus sp.). Photo by Eric Vanderduys

Leaf-tailed gecko (Phyllurus sp.)
Photo by Eric Vanderduys

Cresswell ID, Murphy H (2016). Biodiversity: Terrestrial plant and animal species: Reptiles and amphibians. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/biodiversity/topic/2016/terrestrial-plant-and-animal-species-reptiles-and-amphibians, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65ac828812