Spicospina flammocaerulea 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Myobatrachidae

Scientific Name: Spicospina flammocaerulea
Species Authority: Roberts, Horwitz, Wardell-Johnson, Maxson and Mahony, 1997
Common Name(s):
English Sunset Frog

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Dale Roberts, Jean-Marc Hero
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson and Neil Cox)
Listed as Vulnerable because its area of occupancy is less than 20 km2.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2002 Vulnerable (VU)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species, an Australian endemic, was discovered in 1994 (Roberts et al. 1997). When first described in 1997, the species was only known from three well-separated peat swamps in the south-west corner of Western Australia (Roberts et al. 1997). However, survey work undertaken from 1997 to 2000 increased the number of known populations to 27, all occurring near the Western Australia south coast, east and north-east of Walpole (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999; Burbidge and Roberts 2001). This species has a small area of occupancy (135ha) and a very fragmented range (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999; Burbidge and Roberts 2001).
Countries occurrence:
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: No reliable data on population size are available, however, counts of males have been recorded at several sites from 1994-1997 (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). Surveys of calling males usually report less then ten individuals, however, 150 males were estimated to be present at Trent Road (Bow River) in 1997 (Roberts et al. 1997). An apparent decline in the number of calling males has been recorded at Mountain Road (north and south) where 120 males were observed calling in 1994 and three years later only two males were recorded (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). The actual population size at sites with few or no calling males is unknown (D. Roberts pers. comm.). Two sites with a long history of visitation and no calling activity contained individuals in 2000 (D. Roberts pers. comm.). Overall, there is little evidence of a decline, and the population is probably stable (D. Roberts pers. comm.).
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Spicospina flammocaerulea is a habitat specialist. The region from which it has been recorded is thought to have undergone a change from a subtropical wet to a seasonally arid climate about 5 to 6 million years ago and the peat swamps where the species occurs are considered to be relicts of an earlier environment (Wardell-Johnson, Roberts and Horwitz 1996). The persistence of the species in well-separated swamps is no doubt attributable to this change in environment (Wardell-Johnson, Roberts and Horwitz 1996). The species is found in isolated and permanently moist peat-based swamps with organically rich soils (Roberts et al. 1997), in a high rainfall area of moderate relief with granite outcrops and associated ranges of hills rising to 300-400m asl (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). These sites have high moisture content in the soil and are protected from climatic extremes, often by local seepages that maintain water availability uncharacteristically into spring and summer (Roberts et al. 1997). Males call between October and December from shallow pools, water seepages, large hollows containing water, or in open water along creek margins (Wardell-Johnson, Roberts and Horwitz 1996; Roberts et al. 1997). Less than 200 eggs are deposited singly and may be supported by algal mats just below the waters surface (Roberts et al. 1997). The tadpole stage is presumably free swimming (Roberts et al. 1997). Explosive breeding appears unlikely as numbers of calling males have been observed to remain relatively stable over extended periods throughout the breeding season at some sites (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): An extremely small geographic range makes this species particularly susceptible to local catastrophes. An apparent decline in frog numbers at one locality (Mountain Road, Mount Franklin National Park) following wildfires in 1994 suggests a possible risk from fire (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). Frequency of fire varies between localities but the majority of sites have experienced wildfires in the last 50 years (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). This suggests some capacity to recover post-fire but the time and conditions required for full recovery, which could set an optimal fire interval and intensity regime, are unknown (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). Fires, which burn the substrate (peaty swamps), or changing fire regimes, which lead to a greater propensity of substrate ignition, might well be detrimental to the persistence of the species (Roberts et al. 1997). Loss of vegetation through fire or disease (such as the fungus Phytophthora) might alter soil water tables affecting both availability of breeding sites and peat formation and maintenance (Wardell-Johnson, Roberts and Horwitz 1996; Roberts et al. 1997). Excavation by feral pigs is common in swamps close to the type locality and pigs might have a direct impact on frog survival (Roberts et al. 1997). However, monitoring of known populations and adjacent control sites from 1997-1998 has shown little indication of pig damage (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Fourteen populations are on private property north, west and east of Bow Bridge, with the remainder in the Mount Franklin National Park or on land designated to form part of the Mount Roe-Mount Lindesay National Park but not yet declared (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999; D. Roberts pers. comm.). There are no threats to populations on publicly owned lands that cannot be controlled by appropriate management but there has been no analysis of threats to populations found on private property (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999). Fieldwork is currently being undertaken to evaluate declines and variation in population size by assessing population size more directly using mark-recapture techniques and surveys of tadpole populations (Roberts, Conroy and Williams 1999).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability: Suitable  
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species (Sus domesticus)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.2. Named species
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.3. Temperature extremes
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms & flooding
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions

Bibliography [top]

Burbidge, A.A. and Roberts, J.D. 2001. Sunset Frog Recovery Plan 2001-2005. Wildlife Management Program No.35, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia, Perth.

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

Roberts, D., Conroy, S. and Williams, K. 1999. Conservation status of frogs in Western Australia. In: Campbell, A. (ed.), Declines and Disappearances of Australian Frogs, pp. 177-184. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Roberts, J.D., Horwitz, P., Wardell-Johnson, G., Maxson, L.R. and Mahony, M.J. 1997. Taxonomy, relationships and conservation of a new genus and species of Myobatrachid frog from the high rainfall region of southwestern Australia. Copeia: 373-381.

Wardell-Johnson, G., Roberts, J.D. and Horwitz, P. 1996. The Sunset Frog. Nature Australia Spring: 24-25.

Citation: Dale Roberts, Jean-Marc Hero. 2004. Spicospina flammocaerulea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T41052A10394686. . Downloaded on 07 May 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided