The frog that wears lace

Written by Victoria Graham (@ToriGraham_Aust), Masters of Philosophy Student, James Cook University

for the National Science Communication Challenge

The Australian lace-lid frog (Image: Victoria Graham)

The Australian lace-lid frog (Image: Victoria Graham)

Nature never fails to amaze us but have you ever heard of a frog that wears lace?

The Australian lace-lid frog has a lower eyelid with an intricate lace-like pattern that can only be seen when the eye is closed.

As unusual frogs go, this one takes the cake!

These natural beauties are endangered.

They are surviving in a small section of tropical Australia, including our world famous Daintree Rainforest.

It is a popular species among frog enthusiasts because of its unusual eyes.

No frog is created equal but the lace-lid frog is unique in more ways than one

The closed eye of the lace-lid frog (Image: Victoria Graham)

The closed eye of the lace-lid frog (Image: Victoria Graham)

 

Why should you care about this frog?

The Australian lace-lid frog has highly specialised and unique ecological traits, which make it sensitive to environment stress.

Listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List, the Australian lace-lid population has suffered a serious decline with over 50% now lost.

This decline is mostly due to disease, including a widespread chytrid fungus that has wiped-out populations in upland regions. It is unknown what other threats are causing this species to disappear.

Its declining populations can send an early warning sign for broader ecological stress.

The future is looking very uncertain for the frog that wears lace

The lace-lid frog species is unique to Australia, but protecting these beautiful little frogs is not easy. Researchers have accumulated decades-worth of field data on these frogs in an attempt to identify what is causing their declines and what can be done to protect them from going extinct.

They are now trialling re-introductions into areas where they have been wiped-out and investigating ways to stop the spread of disease into new locations.

The future is looking very uncertain for the frog that wears lace.

Let’s recognise the magic of what we have in our own backyard before it’s too late.

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