Gracie Liu

PhD Candidate, University of NSW

Supervisors: Dr Jodi Rowley (AM, UNSW), Prof Richard Kingsford (UNSW)

Human-driven habitat modification significantly challenges biodiversity. With its intensification, understanding species’ capacity to adapt is critical for conservation planning. However, little is known about whether and how different species are responding, particularly among frogs. We used a continental-scale citizen science dataset of >226,000 audio recordings of 42 Australian frog species to investigate how calling – a proxy for breeding – phenology varied along a human modification gradient. Calling started earlier and breeding seasons lengthened with increasing modification intensity. Breeding seasons averaged 22.9 ± 8.25 days (SE) longer in the most modified compared to the least modified regions, suggesting that frog breeding activity was sensitive to habitat modification.

We also examined whether calls varied along a modification gradient by analysing the temporal and spectral properties of advertisement calls from a subset of 457 audio recordings of three broadly distributed frog species. There was no appreciable effect of anthropogenic habitat modification on any of the measured call variables, although there was high variability. With continued habitat modification, species may shift towards earlier and longer breeding seasons, with largely unknown ecological consequences in terms of proximate and ultimate fitness.