Southern bell frog recovery

Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu, along with partners, have received funding from the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund to deliver the Assisted Reproduction and Reintroductions for Southern Bell Frog Recovery project. This project is aiming to reduce the extinction risk of the nationally Vulnerable (EPBC Act) southern bell frog (Litoria raniformis) in the SA’s lower-Murray region and is working in conjunction with an existing community-led project called “Help the Southern Bell Frog bounce back”.

Southern bell frog populations have declined in abundance through the lower-Murray region, and they disappeared from many areas of the Coorong and Lower Lakes region during the millenium drought.

This new project is supporting an existing captive breeding program at Clayton Bay and undertaking activities to facilitate reintroductions of the species. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) techniques are also being developed to enhance genetic diversity of future captive bred individuals, establishing reintroduction sites in the lower Coorong.

Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu is working with the Clayton Bay Community Association, Clayton Bay Nursery and Environment Group, Peter Mirtschin, Nature Glenelg Trust, and community volunteers from the Help the Southern Bell Frog bounce back project to upgrade the outdoor breeding facilities at Clayton Bay and will also be setting up at least one other outdoor breeding facility at another location.

Southern bell frog recovery

The Assisted Reproductive Technology element of the project is helping the team preserve genetic diversity through cryopreservation of sperm, also known as bio-banking. The bio-banked sperm can be used for future genetic management and ensuring population sustainability.

World-leading experts from the Universities of Newcastle and Canberra have come over to work with the project team to trial and refine the ART methodologies in the southern bell frog. They have also trained staff in these techniques, giving the capacity within South Australia to utilise this technology into the future.

Southern bell frog recovery

Early results of the ART trials have been incredibly positive, with John and Simon Clulow from the Universities of Newcastle and Canberra respectively, already successfully obtaining abundant, high quality sperm from multiple males, cryopreserving the sperm (below -190°C), thawing, and successfully bringing high numbers of viable sperm back to life. In fact, a small number of cryopreserved straws of sperm from two individuals have already been sent to the Ian Potter Australian Wildlife Biobank in Melbourne, for long-term storage.

Keep an eye out here for project updates and information.

Project partners include Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu, Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board, Nature Glenelg Trust, University of Newcastle, University of Canberra, Clayton Bay Nursery and Environment Group, Clayton Bay Community Association and Zoos South Australia.

This project is supported with funding from the Australian Government.