The orange bellied frog (Geocrinia vitellina) is similar to the white bellied frog, however it has an orange/yellowish body with a mottled brown pattern on its back. These frogs are very small reaching only about 25mm in length and 2gms in weight. This species is a direct developer species which means that instead of the tadpoles free swimming, they develop inside a jelly-like egg mass in a burrow, and inside the egg the tadpoles go through all stages of their development before jumping out to be smaller versions of their parents.
Federally listed as ‘vulnerable’ it is restricted to an area of habitat so narrow that a single fire could render this species extinct. It is found in creeklines with dense vegetation in the Spearwood creek system which flows into the Blackwood River.
Orange bellied frogs are threatened by habitat destruction and disturbance (e.g logging, feral animals such as pigs, clearing, recreation), inappropriate fire regimes, alterations in hydrology, decreased water quality, disease and changes in climate.
Orange-bellied Frog and Climate Change
SWCC Strategic Priority
The Orange-bellied frog is identified as a first order priority asset within SWCC’s NRM Strategy under the Aquatic Biodiversity theme.
Perth Zoo has successfully undertaken a captive rearing and translocation program as a way of restocking natural populations over the last few years.
Although the breeding program has successfully boosted numbers of Geocrinia in the wild, species survival is also threatened by key threats operating within the species habitat. SWCC, together with project partners (Lower Blackwood LCDC, DPaW and DoW) have implemented a range of on-ground activities to address some of the manageable threats.
A feral pig trapping and baiting program within the Lower Blackwood region has included monitoring at 37 sites, a feral pig trapping program and a series of bait trials to test the efficacy of the commercially available 1080 Pigout© feral pig bait. Through trapping from 2010 to 2012, over 50 pigs were removed from an area covering 37,500ha.
An annual monitoring program of wild and translocated Geocrinia populations was completed over the 2012 and 2013 monitoring periods. Under the program, DPaW maintained and monitored a series of temperature, humidity and rainfall loggers at a number of key Geocrinia sites which plot local environmental conditions across daily, seasonal and annual timescales to correlate with population monitoring results. DPaW also undertake a weekly monitoring program of all G. vitellina and selected G.alba sites, patrolling for activities such as unauthorised firewood cutting, illegal camping, off road vehicle use and drug growing activities which disturb and destroy frog habitat.
A number of workshops, a brochure and posters have been developed with advice for landholders and community groups on how they can help Geocrinia. The brochure ‘On the Edge of Extinction’ is available here.
- Department of Parks and Wildlife (2014). White and Orange-bellied Frogs (Geocrinia alba and Geocrinia vitellina) Recovery Plan. Wildlife Management Program No.59, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth, WA.
- Orange-Bellied And White-Bellied Frogs Recovery Plan, 2nd Edition 1995 by G Wardell-Johnson, J D Roberts, D Driscoll and K Williams for the Geocrinia Recovery Team.