New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2021) 45(2): 3442

Archaic, terrestrial Hamilton’s frogs (Leiopelma hamiltoni) display arboreal behaviours

Short Communication
Joseph T. Altobelli 1*
Sarah K. Lamar 2
Phillip J. Bishop 1†
  1. Zoology Department, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  2. Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6012, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

New Zealand has three species of endemic amphibians in the genus Leiopelma, all of which are threatened with extinction. The primary threats to their persistence are mammalian predators and habitat loss, and the translocation of these frogs into restored habitat is a common method of conservation. The Maud Island frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni), is considered terrestrial with habitat needs centering on complex boulder-strewn habitat. However, during recent surveys of a translocated population, we found repeated use of arboreal habitat within this species. Further, trail camera observations made several months later confirm this habitat use to persist across seasons. While the function of this arboreal behaviour is unknown, it suggests Maud Island frogs use more complex, vertical habitat than previously thought, which should be considered in future conservation efforts.


†Emeritus Professor Phil Bishop (1957-2021). The New Zealand Journal of Ecology follows the authorship guidelines of Committee on Publication Ethics and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, and we acknowledge that it is not possible for one of the co-authors of this short communication, Phillip J. Bishop, to have given approval to the final version of this manuscript. However, the NZJE also acknowledges the significant input of Phillip J. Bishop into this work; therefore we believe that it is appropriate for this posthumous authorship to be supported.