Litoria raniformis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Litoria raniformis
Species Authority: (Keferstein, 1867)
Common Name(s):
English Green and Gold Frog, Growling Grass Frog, Southern Bell Frog, Warty Bell Frog

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2ae ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Jean-Marc Hero, Graeme Gillespie, Frank Lemckert, Murray Littlejohn, Peter Robertson, Raymond Brereton, Peter Brown
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson and Neil Cox)
Listed as Endangered because of a drastic population decline estimated to be more than 50% over the last ten years, in part due to chytridiomycosis.
2002 Endangered
1996 Endangered
1994 Insufficiently Known (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species was formerly distributed across a large area of south-east Australia, including Tasmania, from 0-1,300m asl (Osborne, Littlejohn and Thomson 1996). In New South Wales and the Australia Capital Territory its range was centred on the Murray and Murrumbidgee River valleys and their tributaries. It occurred throughout the Southern Tablelands and was also recorded on the Central Tablelands as far north as Bathurst (Ehmann and White 1997). It was widespread across Victoria, absent only from the west desert regions and the east alpine regions (Littlejohn 1963, 1982; Hero, Littlejohn and Marantelli 1991). In South Australia the species is known to occur along the lower Murray River valley, the lower south-east to near Keith, and a small introduced population, in the Adelaide Hills (Tyler 1978). In Tasmania, the species occurred broadly across the north and east of the island and on the Bass Strait Island (Brook 1979), and in pockets in the south of the state. This species has also been introduced to New Zealand, where it is widespread across North and South Islands and on Great Barrier and Stewart Islands.
New Zealand
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It was once a common species, but serious declines have occurred in sections of the range (Mahony 1999). Ehmann and White (1997) noted that in New South Wales the species had disappeared from sites in the central and southern highlands. It is currently widespread throughout the Murray River valley but has disappeared from a number of sites along the Murrumbidgee River (Mahony 1999) and there are no recent records from the Monaro District near the Victorian border (G. Gillespie pers. comm.). It persists in isolated populations in the greater Melbourne area, and isolated populations are known from a few sites in central Victoria and Gippsland. A similar decline has been noted in Tasmania, and it is now almost absent from the midlands of Tasmania. In New Zealand, where the species is introduced, there are many thousands, although local declines due to chytridiomycosis and/or introduced Gambusia fish have been observed.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is usually found in association with dams, ponds and marshes, either amongst sedges and other semi-aquatic vegetation, or sheltering under logs and rocks up to 1300m asl (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995). It appears to be associated with permanent waterbodies though it is unclear whether, like Litoria aurea, the species also utilizes ephemeral pools (Mahony 1999). It occurs both in woodland and areas of improved pasture (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995). Little is known about the biology of this species; however, it is likely to be similar to that of L. aurea (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995). Males call from August to April (Hero, Littlejohn and Marantelli 1991). The species breeds in permanent ponds or swamps, usually with extensive areas of sedges and rushes from which adults call (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995). About 1,700 eggs are laid in a loose clump (Hero, Littlejohn and Marantelli 1991, Hero and Warrell unpubl.). The larvae are free swimming and develop over summer and autumn (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995). Metamorphosis takes place between late summer and autumn, although larvae may overwinter and metamorphose the following season (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is mainly collected as a byproduct of another farming industry.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The cause(s) of the apparent declines observed in populations of all taxa within the L. aurea complex are unclear (Gillespie, Osborne and McElhinney 1995). Investigations of disappearances among the group have primarily focused on L. aurea and L. castanea and two major directions in research have been pursued: the role of increased ultraviolet radiation; and the impact of the introduced fish, Gambusia (Mahony 1999). As for L. aurea, L. raniformis has disappeared from sites where Gambusia is present (Mahony 1999; W. Osborne pers. comm.). The dates of introduction of Gambusia to many regions are not well documented and this lack of information has hampered research into declines (Mahony 1999). Introduced Gambusia fish are also a threat to the introduced populations in New Zealand. It is also possible that disease, such as a viral infection or chytrid fungus, may have contributed to the decline of some species (W. Osborne pers. comm.). Chytrid fungus was detected in this species in Mount Compass, South Australia, but was first identified in New Zealand from populations of this species in Christchurch. The drainage of wetlands in Tasmania is a particular threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is protected by state legislation. As an introduced species in New Zealand it has the potential to spread chytrid to areas inhabited by native frogs. Its range includes several protected areas. In Tasmanian legislation the species is listed as "Vulnerable". Werribee Open Range Zoo is supporting ongoing field monitoring of a naturally occurring population, in conjunction with the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment. Melbourne Zoo also maintains a breeding population in captivity.

Bibliography [top]

Barker, J., Grigg, G. and Tyler, M. 1995. A Field Guide to Australian Frogs. Surrey Beatty and Sons Pty Ltd, New South Wales.

Bell, B.D. 1982. New Zealand frogs. Herpetofauna: 1-21.

Brook, A.J. 1979. Atlas of frogs of Tasmania. Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne.

Courtice, G.P. and Grigg, G.C. 1975. A taxonomic revision of the Litoria aurea complex (Anura: Hylidae) in southeastern Australia. Australian Zoologist: 149-163.

Ehmann, H. and White, A. 1997. 23. Southern Bell Frog, Litoria raniformis. In: Ehmann, H. (ed.), Threatened Frogs of New South Wales: Habitats, Status and Conservation, pp. 194-200. Frog and Tadpole Study Group of New South Wales, Sydney South, Australia.

Gill, B.J., Whitaker, A.H. 1996. New Zealand Frogs and Reptiles. Bateman, Auckland.

Gillespie, G.R. and Hero, J.M. 1999. Potential Impact of Introduced Fish and Fish Translocations on Australian Amphibians. In: Campbell, A. (ed.), Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs, pp. 131-144. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Gillespie, G.R., Osborne, W.S. and McElhinney, N.A. 1995. The Conservation Status of Frogs in the Australian Alps: a Review. A Report to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee.

Goldingay, R. and Lewis, B. 1999. Development of a conservation strategy for the Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea in the Illawarra Region of New South Wales. Australian Zoologist: 376-387.

Hero, J.-M., Littlejohn, M. and Marantelli, G. 1991. Frogwatch Field Guide to Victorian Frogs. Department of Conservation and Environment, Melbourne.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

Littlejohn, M.J. 1982. Amphibians of Victoria. Victorian Yearbook: 1-11.

Mahony, M. 1999. Review of the declines and disappearances within the bell frog species group (Litoria aurea species group) in Australia. In: Campbell, A. (ed.), Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs, pp. 81-93. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Morgan, L.A. and Buttermer, W.A. 1996. Predation by the non-native fish Gambusia holbrooki on small Litoria aurea and L. dentata tadpoles. Australian Journal of Zoology: 143-149.

Osborne, W.S., Littlejohn, M.J. and Thomson, S.A. 1996. Former distribution and apparent disappearance of the Litoria aurea complex from the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Australian Zoologist: 190-198.

Pyke, G. 2002. A review of the biology of the southern bell frog Litoria raniformis (Anura: Hylidae). Australian Zoologist: 32-48.

Tyler, M.J. 1978. Amphibians of South Australia. South Australian Museum, Adelaide.

Tyler, M.J. 1992. Encyclopedia of Australian Animals: Frogs. Collins Angus and Robertson, New South Wales.

Tyler, M.J. 1997. The Action Plan for Australian Frogs. Wildlife Australia, Canberra.

van de Mortel, T.F. and Buttermer, W.A. 1996. Are Litoria aurea eggs more sensitive to ultrviolet-B radiation than eggs of sympatric L. peronii or L. dentata. Australian Zoologist: 150-157.

Waldman, B., Van de Wolfshaar, K.E., Klena, J.D., Andjic, V., Bishop, P.J. and Norman, R.J. de B. 2001. Chytridiomycosis in New Zealand frogs. Surveillance: 9-11.

Webb, C.E. and Joss, J. 1997. Does predation by the fish Gambusia holbrooki (Atheriniformes: Poecilidae) contribute to declining frog populations? Australian Zoologist: 316-324.

Citation: Jean-Marc Hero, Graeme Gillespie, Frank Lemckert, Murray Littlejohn, Peter Robertson, Raymond Brereton, Peter Brown 2004. Litoria raniformis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 29 March 2015.
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