Human-assisted invasions of Pacific Islands by Litoria frogs: a case study of the bleating tree frog on Lord Howe Island

Tracy Lynette Plenderleith, Katie Louise Smith, Stephen C Donnellan, Richard D Reina, David Gregory Chapple

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4 Citations (Scopus)


There are substantial differences among taxonomic groups in their capacity to reach remote oceanic islands via long-distance overwater dispersal from mainland regions. Due to their permeable skin and intolerance of saltwater, amphibians generally require human-assisted dispersal to reach oceanic islands. Several Litoria frog species have been introduced to remote islands throughout the Pacific Ocean region. Lord Howe Island (LHI) is an oceanic island that lies approximately 600 km east of the Australian mainland and has a diverse, endemic biota. The bleating tree frog (Litoria dentata) is native to mainland eastern Australia, but was accidentally introduced to LHI in the 1990s, yet its ecology and potential impact on LHI has remained unstudied. We used a mitochondrial phylogeographical approach to determine that L. dentata was introduced from the Ballina region in northeastern New South Wales. The founding population was likely accidentally introduced with cargo shipped from the mainland. We also completed the first detailed investigation of the distribution, ecology and habitat use of L. dentata on LHI. The species is widespread on LHI and is prevalent in human habitat, cattle pasture and undisturbed forest. We discuss the potential impact of introduced Litoria species on Pacific islands and outline what biosecurity protocols could be implemented to prevent the introduction of further amphibian species to the ecologically sensitive oceanic area.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126287
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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