Taudactylus rheophilus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Myobatrachidae

Scientific Name: Taudactylus rheophilus
Species Authority: Liem & Hosmer, 1973
Common Name(s):
English Northern Tinker Frog
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2014. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6 (27 January 2014). New York, USA. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2ac; B2ab(v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Jean-Marc Hero, Ross Alford, Keith McDonald, Michael Cunningham, Richard Retallick
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson and Neil Cox)
Listed as Critically Endangered because of a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80% over the last three generations, inferred from the apparent disappearance of most of the population, possibly due to chytridiomycosis; and because its Area of Occupancy is less than 10km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and it is predicted that there will be a continuing decline in the number of mature individuals.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species, an Australian endemic, is restricted to five mountaintops from Thornton Peak to Mount Bellenden Ker, northern Queensland, at altitudes of 940-1,400m asl (McDonald 1992; Hero et al. 1998). It does not occur in habitat between the mountaintops. The extent of occurrence of the species is less than 4,700km² (map in McDonald 1992).
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The species has undergone a sudden range contraction and had apparently disappeared by October 1991 (Richards, McDonald and Alford 1993). After a period of apparent absence, five individuals were heard calling in a small, high-altitude tributary of the Mulgrave River, and a further seven individuals were heard calling and one was captured in a small, high-altitude tributary of the Mitchell River, Mount Carbine (Marshall 1998). Further records of the species from the south-east slope of Mount Bellenden Ker (Hero et al. 1998) include a single juvenile in February 1998 (Hero et al. 1998) and 3-5 individuals in December 2000 (Freeman 2000; and see Freeman 2003) at approximately 1,400m asl.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a montane specialist, endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion (Williams and Hero 1998) occurring along rocky streams in upland rainforest (Liem and Hosmer 1973). It is usually found under rocks and logs beside fast-flowing streams and prefers seepage and trickle areas near streams (McDonald 1992). Individuals recorded in 1996 were found hidden from view in small gaps beneath or between boulders that were at least one metre in diameter (Marshall 1998). One juvenile on Bellenden Ker was captured from under a small rock approximately 30cm in diameter, in the streambed (J.-M. Hero pers. obs.). The species is active all year (Richards, McDonald and Alford 1993) and calls mainly during the day (Ingram 1980). Male calling sites are usually under boulders, rocks or roots and individuals may be partially submerged (Ingram 1980; Marshall 1998). Egg masses and tadpoles of the species have not been identified (Liem and Hosmer 1973; McDonald and Alford 1999), but large eggs (1.8-2.4mm diameter), numbering 35-50 have been found in gravid females (Liem and Hosmer 1973). Juveniles were collected in December and May (Liem and Hosmer 1973).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The causes of the decline remain unknown. Richards, McDonald and Alford (1993) found no obvious evidence that drought, floods, habitat destruction or pollution by pesticides, inorganic ions or heavy metals were responsible for the population declines. Current research is examining the possibility that disease, such as a viral infection or chytrid fungus, might have contributed to the decline of this species (Berger, Speare and Hyatt 1999). The effects that having very small isolated populations might have on the recovery of the species remain largely unknown, but might include low genetic variability, increased susceptibility to disease and general demographic instability (Hero et al. 2002). Feral pigs are a potential cause of riparian habitat damage and adult frog mortality (Richards, McDonald and Alford 1993). The activity of feral pigs has been recorded to have increased over the period 1989-1992 in an area previously inhabited by this species (Richards, McDonald and Alford 1993). However, there is very little research into the impact of feral pigs on native frog populations (Richards, McDonald and Alford 1993).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Much of the species' habitat is protected within Daintree and Wooroonooran National Parks. It is listed as endangered in Australian legislation. Research and monitoring of populations is in place.

Citation: Jean-Marc Hero, Ross Alford, Keith McDonald, Michael Cunningham, Richard Retallick. 2004. Taudactylus rheophilus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T21534A9299696. . Downloaded on 29 March 2017.
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