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New Year wishes (and frogs) from George Madani

George writes from Australia with wishes to all for a Happy New Year! He has been extraordinarily busy with fieldwork since the start of the Australian spring, and the last few months have seen him up in Cape York training some of the traditional owners in fauna survey techniques. He’s also been monitoring a population of endangered Giant Barred Frogs, Mixophyes iterates, and working as a research assistant once more at the University of Sydney in a herpetology lab. Just about every night for the last few months George has spent frogging, and when he hasn’t been officially working, he’s been frogging and spotlighting in his free time anyway!

Mixophyes iteratus amplexus[8]

Giant Barred Frogs, Mixophyes iterates, (c) G. Madani

Here are some of George’s superb photographs and his descriptions of the frog’s breeding biology: The first is of an amplexing pair of Giant Barred Frogs, Mixophyes iterates, the species he’s been monitoring. The male and female can remain attached for days, with the male loath to abandon the female until she has released her eggs.

The male can be so stubborn that he will risk exposure rather then to let go of his prize and George sometimes comes across males exposed on the surface whilst still attached to the female who remains hidden and buried below the leaf litter. Interestingly, once the pair has spawned, the females use the extensive webbing on their back feet to flick up the fertilised eggs onto the creek bank to develop amongst the damp soil and leaf litter in a clever anti-predator strategy. Once the tadpoles have hatched they then slip off the bank and into the water with a head start to life! Amazing!

Assa darlingtoni - Marsupial Frog[9]

Hip-pocket Frog, Assa darlingtoni, (c) George Madani

The second image is of Assa darlingtoni, which goes by a few names including the Hip-pocket Frog, Pouched Frog or Marsupial Frog. As all these names infer, this unique and amazing little amphibian has pouches near the groin with which the male of the species uses to accommodate the tadpoles after hatching.

The opaque white tadpoles develop inside over the course of about 50 days or so before metamorphosing and braving their new world of rainforest leaf litter!  At about 20mm long these enigmatic little frogs can take some finding, with this miniscule individual taking over an hour to locate!

Pseudophryne coriacea[9]

Red-backed Toadlet, Pseudophryne coriacea (c) G. Madani

The final image is of the Red-backed Toadlet, Pseudophryne coriacea. Known as brood frogs, the males of this species are also good fathers. They will call from and guard their little submerged nest of fertilized clear globular eggs. The nests are usually located in soaks, ditches and natural gutters underneath deep leaf litter, rocks and logs. When the rain finally comes, rising water washes the ripe eggs down into nearby creeks where they hatch into tadpoles and the next life stage commences.

George Madani (Simpson/Tasmania)         Kimberly update         Borneo Update

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