March 14, 2007

Alcoa helps new frog hop onto world stage

Research in Western Australia as part of the 'Alcoa Frogwatch' program has led to the discovery of a totally new species, dubbed the Chattering Rock Frog.

Western Australian Museum herpetologist Dr Paul Doughty and Sydney based tadpole expert Marion Anstis discovered the frog near the Grotto, a spectacular waterhole near the East Kimberley town of Wyndham in Western Australia.

It is the first of what researchers hope will be several new species discovered during the three-year Alcoa of Australia-backed project that will enable WA Museum scientists to document the region’s biodiversity before the arrival of the notorious cane toads.

Dr Doughty said the Chattering Rock Frog was the first new species from the region to be described in 20 years.

“We found it initially because of its unusual Morse-code like call which is reflected in its scientific name, Litoria staccato,” Dr Doughty said.

“We could also see that the new species was smaller and had less webbing compared to its sister species, the Common Rock Frog, and that it occurred higher up on the ridges.

Dr Doughty said the Chattering Rock Frog was endemic to the Kimberley region and that it was unlikely to be affected by the imminent invasion of the cane toads.

“Although cane toads will be in the territory in two to three years, they are unlikely to impact on this frog species as the habitat is completely different - grasslands versus rocks,” he said.
The Kimberley research work is part of the Alcoa Frog Watch program, a successful partnership between Alcoa of Australia and the Museum.
Alcoa Frog Watch is dedicated to providing information on all aspects of Western Australian frogs. This includes the current research in the Kimberley, education programs, building frog-friendly gardens, live frog displays, a tadpole exchange program and public talks.

For further information about Western Australia’s frogs visit the Alcoa Frog Watch 'webbed site' .
For more information on the Alcoa Frogwatch partnership click here

Click image to enlarge.

The Chattering Rock Frog

Click image to enlarge.

WA Museum Herpetologist Dr Paul Doughty with the Chattering Rock Frog

Listen to the unusual Morse-code like call of the Chattering Rock Frog!

Visit the Alcoa Frogwatch 'webbed site'