30 years ago Archey’s frogs were common in the podocarp and broadleaf forest on the high ridges inland from Coromandel Township. Now, these endangered native frogs are scarce and very hard to find.
Studies have found that up to 85% of the frogs have succumbed to a fungus disease called Chytrid. What is baffling scientists is why this disease is only just causing such devastating damage to the Archey’s frog population because Chytrid has been around for millions of years. It is only been since the mid-1990s that the disease has begun to have such a huge effect on the population.
Archey’s frogs are highly unusual because they do not have a tadpole stage and do not rely on standing or running water to reproduce. But they do need moisture on their permeable skin through which most of their breathing is done – (they have very small and ineffective lungs).
Up till now, they have relied on the moist misty weather on the ridge tops in the Coromandel ranges to survive. But global warming could already be changing that cool moist environment. The latest climate prediction models for New Zealand indicate a mean temperature increase by 2080 of between 1.8°C and 2.1°C, with localised highs spiking to 5°C and higher under “fossil—fuel intensive” models.
Archey’s frogs don’t croak like other frogs, but indications are beginning to emerge that this rare and endangered amphibian – as a species – may soon croak due to global warming. A stark reminder that the effects of climate change are not being felt just by humans – many plants and animals face actual extinction.