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Rheobatrachus vitellinus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AMPHIBIA ANURA MYOBATRACHIDAE

Scientific Name: Rheobatrachus vitellinus
Species Authority: Mahony, Tyler & Davies, 1984
Common Name(s):
English Eungella Gastric-brooding Frog, Northern Gastric Brooding Frog

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Jean-Marc Hero, Keith McDonald, Ross Alford, Michael Cunningham, Richard Retallick
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson and Neil Cox)
Justification:
Listed as Extinct because it has not been recorded in the wild since 1985, and extensive searches over the last 20 years have failed to locate this species.
History:
2002 Extinct
1996 Endangered
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Indeterminate (IUCN 1990)
1988 Indeterminate (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species, an Australian endemic, was discovered in January 1984 (Mahony et al. 1984) and was found exclusively in undisturbed rainforest in Eungella National Park, mid-eastern Queensland at altitudes of 400-1,000m asl (Covacevich and McDonald 1993). The extent of occurrence of the species was less than 500km² (map in McDonald 1990).
Countries:
Regionally extinct:
Australia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The species was considered common across its range until January 1985 when the first signs of decline (reported by Winter and McDonald 1986) were observed at lower altitudes (i.e., about 400m asl) (McDonald 1990). At higher altitudes the frogs remained common until March 1985 but were absent in June of that year (McDonald 1990). Despite continued efforts to locate the species, Rheobatrachus vitellinus has not been recorded again within Eungella National Park or any other locations (Ingram and McDonald 1993; McDonald and Alford 1999). This species is now considered to be extinct.

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is an aquatic species largely restricted to the shallow section of fast-flowing creeks and streams in rainforest. It is one of only two known species to brood its offspring within its stomach. Females deposited their eggs, and then swallowed them. While in the stomach, tadpoles excreted some form of enzyme that inhibited the female's gastric digestion, and then proceded to develop into fully formed froglets. The froglets were then regurgitated through the female's mouth.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The cause(s) of the population decline remain unknown. McDonald (1990) found no obvious evidence that seasonal rarity, over-collecting, predation, drought, floods, habitat destruction, disease, heavy parasite loads or stress due to handling for data collection were responsible for the population declines. Threats to the Eungella National Park include fires that might sweep up the slopes of the mountain during harvesting of the sugar cane in the fields below (Winter and McDonald 1986). Successive fires extend deeper into the rainforest leaving grassy ridges that are devoid of trees (Winter and McDonald 1986). The rainforest is extremely narrow in places and continual fire might eventually erode away entire sections of the forest or fragment the forest (Winter and McDonald 1986). Weeds that encroach on the edges of the forest pose a similar threat (Winter and McDonald 1986). It was thought that it might have been possible that the decline that was observed in 1984-1985 was a natural population fluctuation and that residual individuals had retreated to hidden refuges (Winter and McDonald 1986; McDonald 1990). The extent of such population fluctuations is unknown, but there is evidence of large swings in numbers of other Australian frogs (McDonald 1990). However, despite continued efforts to locate the species, it has not been recorded within Eungella National Park or any other locations since March 1985 (Ingram and McDonald 1993; Richards, McDonald and Alford 1993; Hero et al. 1998, 2002; McDonald and Alford 1999). Eungella National Park is subject to weed invasion on the edges of the reserve (Winter and McDonald 1986). From what is known from similar declines and disappearance elsewhere in the world, chytridiomycosis (present in at least some rainforest streams at Eungella) must be suspected and a major causes of the extinction of this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Its known range is within a protected area. A recovery plan for the species has been prepared. It is listed on CITES Appendix II.

Citation: Jean-Marc Hero, Keith McDonald, Ross Alford, Michael Cunningham, Richard Retallick 2004. Rheobatrachus vitellinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 November 2014.
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