Archey’s frog in Whareorino

Image: L Keene | DOC

Introduction

The endangered Archey's frog is one of four remaining species of native frog, and the only terrestrial frog found on mainland New Zealand.

Highlights

Size: Up to 37 mm long
Colour: Mottled colours of red, green and brown
Habitat: Damp forest
Conservation status: Evoluntionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered
Location: Coromandel Peninsula, Whareorino Forest, Pureora

Description

Archey's frog (Leiopelma archeyi) is our smallest native frog, growing up to 37 mm long. It occupies damp forest habitats above 400 m, but has been found as low as 100-200 m above sea level in the Coromandel.

This nocturnal master of camouflage was first described as a separate species in 1942.

Mottled colours of red, green and brown make up the colour of the Archey’s skin. These patterns are so distinctive and different that DOC uses them to individually identify the frogs in its monitoring programme.

Archey's frog is internationally important and is the number one Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species.

Listen to a radio podcast: Archey's frogs thriving in the King Country

Location

Archey's frog is found in three locations:

  • Coromandel Peninsula: the population declined late 1990s and early 2000s. It is in lower abundance here, but stable. 
  • Whareorino Forest frog protection area: the frogs are at risk from predation from rats, but biodegradeable 1080 and bait stations are being used to control these predators. Frogs are stable or increasing at monitoring sites where pest control is undertaken. As a result of this success, pest control is being expanded to cover the entire Archey's frog range in Whareorino. 
  • Pureora: a successfully translocated population was established in 2006 and topped up in 2016. It is establishing well and protected by predator control.

Identifying Archey's frog

DOC uses an innovative photo stage method to identify Archey's frogs. It identifies individual frogs to help us monitor and better understand what is leading to the species' decline.

Protecting Archey's frog

Archey’s frogs are modern-day dinosaurs. Almost unchanged from their 150 million-year old fossilised relatives, these little battlers are among the world’s oldest frogs and in desperate need of help.

Archey’s frogs make a tasty meal for rats, pigs, stoats, hedgehogs, possums, cats and introduced frogs. Help is now on the way thanks to the Battle for our Birds campaign.

The campaign aims to protect Archey’s frogs along with other threatened species through pest control.

Amongst the 30,000-ha operation area at Whareorino is the last stronghold for Archey’s frogs and a nationally important native frog conservation project.

Auckland Zoo have a captive programme dedicated to developing captive breeding techniques. 

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