Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps


Frogs, Toads

Compiler and date details

6 June 2005 - Harold G. Cogger, Elizabeth Cameron, Heather M. Cogger; updated by ABRS, folllowing publication of Clayton et al. (2006)


More than a century has passed since G.A. Boulenger began to publish his land-mark catalogues of the reptiles and amphibians in the collection of the British Museum (Natural History)—now The Natural History Museum, London. These catalogues provided the first truly comprehensive taxonomic treatment of Australian amphibians and reptiles, at the species and higher levels, albeit integrated into a world fauna (Boulenger 1882).

Since Boulenger's time, a vast amount of systematic research has been carried out on the Australian frog fauna. The number of species recognised has climbed dramatically, to a total of 214 in this Catalogue, while a better understanding of phyletic relationships has led to many changes in the higher classification of this fauna.

Despite these changes, the first checklists of Australian frog species to follow Boulenger's catalogues were those of Moore (1961) and the Zoological Catalogue of Australia, Vol. 1, Amphibia, Reptilia (Cogger et al. 1983). These have since been supplemented by world-wide checklists (e.g. Duellman 1977).

To the 214 species of frogs recognised from Australia in this database, more than 360 separate trivial (vernacular) names have been applied since 1758—the year which formally marks the establishment of the Linnaean binominals system of classification. The Zoological Catalogue of Australia, Vol. 1 provided a checklist for both Australian amphibians and reptiles and, in its preparation, considerable effort went into locating and checking original descriptions and, in the case of older taxa or obscure or equivocal recent taxa, examining type specimens to try to determine their taxonomic status. The aim of this current database, like the 1983 Catalogue, is to provide a working basis for those concerned, either directly or indirectly, with the taxonomy and nomenclature of Australian frogs. The approach is parochial as it is geared to the needs of herpetologists and students concerned with the regional Australian herpetofauna rather than to the needs of specialists in particular groups.

In attempting to cover the entire Australian herpetofauna in this and the companion database of reptiles, some of the rigour of specialist reviews is lacking. Consequently this section of the database should be used in conjunction with the available world-wide or regional monographs and/or checklists such as that of Duellman (1977) cited above. Where errors in the 1983 Catalogue, contrary views or rediscovered type specimens have been brought to our attention, they are cited in this revision. We apologise in advance for any that may have been overlooked. The validity of some taxa continues to be disputed by specialists, as do the names that should be applied to them. There is no 'correct' answer to these disputes, only the subjective views of individual specialists.

Readers should also note that each species' entry includes two pieces of information not included in Cogger et al. (1983). The first of these is a CAVS number which has been inserted by the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) and represents the number assigned to each species that is recognised as taxonomically valid in the Census of Australian Vertebrate Species. The latter is a list prepared by ABRS primarily for Australian government agencies and published on the ABRS web site (www.etc.). Also included by ABRS are the vernacular or 'common' names assigned to these species in the CAVS list. However, for a large number of species these common names do not represent names long and widely applied by Australians to particular frogs at the national, regional or local levels, but have been constructed by scientists to meet a perceived need for common names by lay people who have difficulty in coping with scientific names based on Greek or Latin words, or words that are treated as Latin.

While this objective is admirable, many of the proposed common names have little or obscure relationships to the meaning of their scientific names or to the physical, geographic or other characteristics of the species. Others are unnecessarily long and/or complex. Consequently only those that are easily remembered and that assist in linking their species to their scientific names, or to unique morphological, geographic, behavioural or ecological characteristics, are likely to be widely adopted in the longer term.

Finally, readers should also be aware that the prime purpose of this revision is to bring the taxonomic checklist up to date — to incorporate taxa described since 1982 together with taxonomic re-arrangements that have been widely accepted by the herpetological community since that time and any changes in the known distribution of the included species. In most cases no attempt has been made to update references to the biology and ecology of each species, which remain unchanged from the 1983 edition.

Database Notes

This database of Australian Amphibia is based on the 1983 checklist published as (Cogger, H., Cameron, E.E. & Cogger, H.M., 1983). The data from this Catalogue was imported into the ABRS software program, Platypus, and subsequently updated by H.G. Cogger, 2001–2002. In June 2005, ABRS added several newly described and recognised taxa, following recently published papers.

In February 2006, the database was updated to concur with the newly published CSIRO List of Ausratlian Vertebrate Species (Clayton et al. 2006).

The Census of Australian Vertebrate Species taxon codes, accessible from the ABIF-Fauna home page under the CAVS link, are derived from this checklist in real time.


Limital Distribution

Distribution data in the Directory is by political and geographic region descriptors and serves as a guide to the distribution of a taxon. For details of a taxon's distribution, the reader should consult the cited references (if any) at genus and species levels.

Australia is defined as including Lord Howe Is., Norfolk Is., Cocos (Keeling) Ils, Christmas Is., Ashmore and Cartier Ils, Macquarie Is., Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard and McDonald Ils, and the waters associated with these land areas of Australian political responsibility. Political areas include the adjacent waters.

Terrestrial geographical terms are based on the drainage systems of continental Australia, while marine terms are self explanatory except as follows: the boundary between the coastal and oceanic zones is the 200 m contour; the Arafura Sea extends from Cape York to 124 DEG E; and the boundary between the Tasman and Coral Seas is considered to be the latitude of Fraser Island, also regarded as the southern terminus of the Great Barrier Reef.

Distribution records, if any, outside of these areas are listed as extralimital. The distribution descriptors for each species are collated to genus level. Users are advised that extralimital distribution for some taxa may not be complete.


General References

Barker, J., Grigg, G. & Tyler, M. 1995. A Field Guide to Australian Frogs. Chipping Norton, NSW : Surrey Beatty & Sons 1995 edn xi, 407 pp.

Boulenger, G.A. 1882. Catalogue of the Batrachia Gradentia s. Caudata in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum xvi + 503 pp.

Clayton, M., Wombey, J.C., Mason, I.J., Chesser, R.T. & Wells, A. 2006. CSIRO List of Australian Vertebrates: A Reference with Conservation Status. Melbourne : CSIRO Publishing iv 162 pp.

Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Sydney : Reed New Holland 6th edition, 808 pp.

Cogger, H.G., Cameron, E.E. & Cogger, H.M. 1983. Amphibia and Reptilia. In, Walton, D.W. (ed.). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1 vi + 313 pp.

Duellman, W.E. 1977. Liste der rezenten Amphibien und Reptilien, Hylidae Centrolenidae, Pseudidae. Das Tierreich 95: i-xix 1-225

Duellman, W.E. 1993. Amphibian species of the world: additions and corrections. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Special Publications 21: 1-372

Frost, D.R. (ed.) 1985. Amphibian Species of the World; a taxonomic and geographical reference. Lawrence, Kansas : Allen Press & Assoc. Systematics Collections v 732 pp.

Glasby, C.J., Ross, G.J.B. & Beesley, P.L. (eds) 1993. Fauna of Australia: Amphibia and Reptilia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 2A vii 439 pp.

Moore, J.A. 1961. The frogs of eastern New South Wales. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 121: 149-386

Tyler, M.J. 1999. Australian Frogs. Sydney : Reed New Holland pp. 1-192.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)