Wow, back to back species spolights! It just goes to show that I’m one lucky guy in that I get to work with such cool critters. Today’s entry is all about a New Zealand native frog – Archey’s.
Scientific name: Leiopelma archeyi
Common name (English/Te Reo): Archey’s Frog/Pepeka
Conservation status: CE – Critically Endangered (IUCN 3.1)Diet: Invertebrates
Habitat: Forest floor leaf litter, in ground vegetation, rotting logs etc
New Zealand has three (or four) very interesting endemic frog species including Archey’s, Hochstetter’s, Hamilton’s and Maud Island. From an international perspective our frogs are very unique in that they’re representative of ancient frog species.
They also have quirky features and habits such as:
- not croaking much, in fact they often squeak!
- having no tadpole stage. Froglets which are miniature versions of adults hatch from the eggs and receive parental care. Archey’s males have been noted to carry froglets on their backs.
- being comparatively long lived, estimates range up to around 30 years.
New Zealand frog populations underwent serious declines in the mid 1990′s due to the global spread of chytrid fungus. This remains a threat to the species’ in addition to habitat loss, climate change and rat predation pressure.
Last week I was part of a monitoring team that headed into a forest block near the King Country coast. The work was entirely night based and so it I had to jump into a nocturnal schedule quickly. Just after sunset we’d head to the frog grid and systematically search for the elusive and well camouflaged little critters.
The next step was to take them all back to the hut to be photographed. The monitoring method relies on identifying individual frogs through their unique markings, allowing us to collect capture-recapture data and keep track of changes to the population. Getting the little guys to stay still for a few seconds is quite a task!
Once they’ve been photographed we take a few morpho-metrics before releasing them back into the grid, in fact, to the very spot we found them.
It was a really exciting 4 nights work! We headed out on day 5 to a much anticipated shower and pie. I took a few personal pictures during the week which you can all check out here >>