Sausages, starry night and Smooth Frogs

Listening for frogs at Mount Burr Swamp (Photo: Kimberley Height)

In one night, keen volunteers drove and walked to over 30 of the 60 wetlands on the Mount Burr Swamp property. Their aim; to listen and record the frogs in search of the fascinating (and near threatened) Smooth Frog, Geocrinia laevis. Twenty people used the Australian Museum Frog ID app to recognise which species were in both plantation areas and open farmland. Three species were heard: Southern Brown Tree Frog, Common Froglet, and Smooth Frog!

The great news was that the enjoyable and productive night’s effort revealed Smooth Frog is found in most wetlands on the Mount Burr Swamp property! We finished off our great night’s work by sharing a beautiful spread of salads and barbeque and lots of frog talk.

Can you see it? A Southern Brown Tree Frog in the leaf litter (Photo: Kimberley Height).

This little Smooth Frog shows the pinkish colour on the thighs and groin

Although Smooth Frog is easy to hear, it can be hard to see. It is small and dark grey with smooth skin, but a warty appearance. The back and head have lighter flecks of colour and the underside of the legs and groin are pinkish. Smooth Frog lays its eggs in moist vegetation, often in the upper margins of swamps (which is similar to some Toadlets). The Smooth Frog tadpoles develop in the egg capsule, then hatch directly into the water following flooding. Other frog species, for example Growling Grass-frog (which also occurs on the property), require permanent water conditions.

Frog life cycles are closely linked with the presence of water, so are important when considering changes in rainfall patterns. Even at one site, different frog species can have a variety of life history strategies to cope with climate variability, but the effects of climate extremes (e.g. drought, high temperatures) are poorly understood.

Rewetting of wetlands at Mount Burr Swamp will hopefully provide more diverse habitats so frogs (especially the Smooth Frog and Growling Grass Frog) continue to thrive.

Haven’t heard a Smooth Frog yet? You might enjoy listening to this recording, the “creaky door” is the Smooth Frog 🙂

Bryan Haywood
Bryan Haywood
bryan.haywood@natureglenelg.org.au