Environmental watering triggers rapid frog breeding in temporary wetlands within a regulated river system

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The Murray–Darling basin is the most extensively regulated river system in Australia and delivery of environmental water is increasingly being used in its management. Due to their sensitivity to hydrological changes, frogs are often targets of environmental watering actions, and site-specific data on their habitat and water requirements are essential for achieving optimal ecological outcomes. I investigated the spatial and temporal response of frogs to the environmental watering of temporary wetlands in the lower River Murray region to determine if watering (timing, duration and quality) triggered a breeding response and provided opportunities for juvenile recruitment. Frog and tadpole surveys were conducted each month from December 2014 to April 2015 at watered temporary wetlands and permanent wetlands along on the River Murray in South Australia. All seven frog species known from the lower Murray valley bred opportunistically after deliberate flooding of temporary wetland sites. Breeding was immediate and was observed at all watered sites. Tadpole development was largely synchronous and rapid, with the majority of frogs metamorphosing 3 to 4 months after wetlands were inundated. The abundance and diversity of tadpoles and frogs was significantly greater in watered wetlands than in permanent wetlands. Wetlands required inundation for a minimum duration of 4 months over summer and autumn to allow sufficient time for tadpoles to complete development. Environmental watering of wetlands via pumping, whilst highly localised, can target key ecological assets in dry conditions, and may provide critical breeding opportunities and refugia for maintaining frog species and their ecological roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1087
Number of pages15
JournalWetlands Ecology and Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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