Decades of sand mining on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) has taken its toll on the island’s wallum wetlands. In the wake of mining activity, habitat rehabilitation has been conducted to try and minimise or reverse the damage and restore this ecosystem’s former biodiversity. However, despite extensive wetland restoration efforts, assessment of its effectiveness is lacking.

Amongst the wildlife affected by sand mining are a group of wallum-endemic threatened species known as acid frogs. For these species, changes to the hydrologic regime, increased water pH, and the invasion of competitor species may cause their populations to decline.

In order to assess the effectiveness of the wetland restoration efforts for these acid frogs, arrays of passive acoustic recorders will be positioned within the wallum habitat. These recorders will capture frog mating calls during the breeding season within restored, intact and disturbed wetlands. The recordings will then be analysed to identify which species are present, infer their relative abundances and determine how this varies between different habitat conditions. Non-intrusive bioacoustic monitoring is an efficient and effective approach to surveying these species, which require extensive survey effort in the field, while minimising disturbance to both the frogs and their sensitive wetland habitat. This research may support a better understanding of wetland restoration success in Australia.

‘Wetland Restoration’ is led by Dr Berndt Janse van Rensburg (University of Queensland) and Professor Paul Roe (Queensland University of Technology), working closely with local rangers to whom ownership of the acoustic recorders will be transferred upon completion of the project to facilitate future restoration assessments.