The Critically Endangered Northern tinker frog is relatively small, growing to a maximum length of only 3 cm.
In the early 1990s population declines were so dramatic it was thought that the northern tinker frog may have been driven to extinction. Numerous surveys from 1991 to 1994 failed to find any individuals. However, later in the decade small numbers of individuals were heard calling again. The species is a montane specialist, found only in the wet tropics of Queensland at altitudes of 940-1400 metres.
The Taudactylus genus of frogs, to which this species belongs, diverged from all other amphibians over 65 million years ago. This means this group of frogs has been evolving in isolation since before the extinction of the dinosaurs!
It is suggested severe declines are due to the Chytrid fungus which is known to have caused declines in many amphibian species worldwide, including a number of species from Queensland which are closely related to the northern tinker frog. Any population recovery in the northern tinker frog may be slowed by the effects of having small and fragmented populations. 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.
Much of the species’ habitat is protected within Daintree and Wooroonooran National Parks. The draft recovery plan for the northern tinker frog recommends that all historical localities are monitored to ensure that any signs of recovery are detected, and that staff and volunteers in National Parks are trained to recognise the species, ensuring that monitoring is as extensive as possible.
- Order: Anura
- Family: Myobatrachidae
- Population: <15
- Trend: unknown
- Size: 30mm
The species is restricted to just five mountaintops, from Thornton Peak to Mount Bellenden Ker, in northern Queensland, Australia. The species is found between 940-1400 metres altitude.
Habitat and Ecology
The Northern tinker frog is a montane specialist, occurring along rocky streams in upland rainforest. It is usually found under rocks and logs beside streams and in between rocks and boulders hidden from view. The species are active all year, but breed only from December to May. Male calling sites are usually under rocks and boulders and they call mainly during the day.