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6 January 2021 Occupancy modelling reveals a highly restricted and fragmented distribution in a threatened montane frog (Philoria kundagungan) in subtropical Australian rainforests
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Abstract

In the last several decades, habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, disease, pollution and, more recently, climate change have led to catastrophic declines in amphibian biodiversity. Montane amphibian species, particularly those with narrow distributions and specific habitat requirements are likely to be at particular risk under future climate change scenarios. Despite this, fundamental ecological data are lacking for most of these species. Philoria kundagungan is a poorly known representative of a range-restricted genus of montane amphibians from eastern Australia. Using an occupancy framework, we conducted repeated call playback surveys at 32 sites across the mountainous regions of south-east Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, Australia, to investigate: (1) the current extent of this species’ geographic range, and (2) environmental predictors of this species’ presence. We found that P. kundagungan has a highly restricted and fragmented distribution, being limited to ∼11 km2 of potentially suitable habitat, and that its presence is strongly associated with high elevation (>800 m). Our survey protocol resulted in a high probability of detection (>70%) at occupied sites from relatively few visits. From these baseline data, future studies will have the ability to determine changes in this species’ geographic range and occupancy rate in response to the ever-increasing threats faced by P. kundagungan, thereby supporting more effective conservation strategies and policy decisions.

Journal compilation © CSIRO 2019
Liam J. Bolitho, Jodi J. L. Rowley, Harry B. Hines, and David Newell "Occupancy modelling reveals a highly restricted and fragmented distribution in a threatened montane frog (Philoria kundagungan) in subtropical Australian rainforests," Australian Journal of Zoology 67(4), 231-240, (6 January 2021). https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO20037
Received: 25 May 2020; Accepted: 15 December 2020; Published: 6 January 2021
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