Amphibian Population Declines: Robert Puschendorf

Each year the Skyrail Rainforest Foundation makes funding available to students conducting and participating in relevant PhD and masters research projects. James Cook University (JCU) PhD student Robert Puschendorf, was one of the first students to be awarded this funding in 2007, with another grant given in 2008.

SRF funding supported Robert?s research "Mechanisms of resistance to chytridiomycosis in recovered and recolonised amphibian populations" and led to the rediscovery of a frog species not seen for 17 years and thought to be extinct.

Robert was working in conjunction with JCU's Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, and Professor Ross Alford, when the Armoured Mist Frog (Litoria lorica) was found on the Carbine Tablelands, in Tropical North Queensland, Australia.

It had been feared the Armoured Mist Frog was lost in the devastating outbreaks of amphibian chytrid fungus, which started in the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area 20 years ago and was thought to have caused the extinction of all known high elevation populations of seven frog species in the Wet Tropics between the late 1980s and early 1990's.

The identification of this species was confirmed by Dr. Conrad Hoskin of the Australian National University.

This project was also supported by the Federal Department of Environment, Heritage, Water, and the Arts, Australian Geographic and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.