ABSTRACT

The long-term impacts of mining on frog communities have received scant attention in published literature. This study presents a 38-year survey of two sites bordering a sand mine at Bridge Hill in the Myall Lakes National Park, New South Wales (NSW). Mining occurred in the area close to the two survey sites between 1981 and 1983 and frog surveys were undertaken there between 1978 and 2016. One site was a dunal pond that supported up to 13 frog species, the other a wallum swamp that supported up to 12 frog species; however, frog community composition fluctuated dramatically during and immediately after mining at both sites. Some frog species became temporarily more abundant (e.g. Litora aurea, L. latopalmata, Crinia tinnula), some species became less abundant and eventually disappeared from the sites (e.g. Adelotus brevis, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis, Pseudophryne bibroni). Changes in species abundance were driven by changes in pH, salinity and emergent plant cover at both sites as a direct consequence of mining disturbance. The frog populations at the dunal pond and swamp site became more stable 20 years after the cessation of mining, but neither site has returned to its pre-mining species composition. Habitat variables appear to be significant in determining the colonisation success of some frog species, but mining activity has been responsible for changes in these variables and the impacts of mining still remain.

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