Archey's Frog - Leiopelma archeyi
The Archeys frog is the smallest of New Zealand's frogs growing to 38 mm. They are restricted to the Coromandel Peninsula and the Whareorino Forest, and in both of these areas it occurs sympatrically (occupying the same or overlapping geographic areas) with the Hochstetter's frog. They prefer to live at an altitude of about 400-1000 m. The Archey's frogs need to stay moist and live in native forest habitat but do not need streams or pools.
Archey's frogs are both terrestrial and nocturnal and lay a small clutch of up to 13 large eggs (5mm) under stones or logs. The tailed froglets remain on their fathers back for several weeks until metamorphosis is nearly complete, and Morris and Ballance (2008) advise that the male produce secretions of anti microbial properties so that the eggs do not succumb to fungal infections. The population of monitored Archey's frogs has decreased by 88% between 1996 and 2001 and this is believed to be resultant of a primitive fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis which is implicated in the declines and extinction of nearly one third of the earth's frogs and toads. The Archey's frog is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Some scientists believe it's possible that increased moisture and cloud cover, resultant of global warming, is encouraging the spread of this fungus (Morris & Ballance, 2008). This proposition has now been abandoned after a study carried out in 2008 according to Miller & Spoolman (2009). They carry on to advise, however, that 5 species of frog and toad have become extinct in Costa Rica as warm dry air has replaced the formally moist air that blew in from the Caribbean - resultant of recent weather pattern shifts. Whatever the exact range of causes are, frogs and toads are sensitive species, so are sensitive biological indicators of the environment. 33% of amphibians are now threatened, and 43% are in a state of decline, according to the 2004 Global Amphibian Assessment - as cited by Millar & Spoolman (2009).
© Images Dr Paddy Ryan