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Springbrook’s fauna

Springbrook’s rainforests are home to numerous species of fauna that are of outstanding significance to conservation and contribute to the World Heritage values. Just a few are described here.

Little is known about the Springbrook populations of these fauna and whether they have declined owing to loss of habitat. Taking a precautionary approach, it may be critical to increase the area of closed-canopy forest to expand their habitat and to reduce clearings for houses, roads and transmission lines to reduce fragmentation.

Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti)

Evidence from DNA studies show lyrebirds, scrub-birds, treecreepers and bowerbirds, all of which evolved on the Australian landmass, to be the most ancient of the world’s songbirds. Lyrebirds and scrub-birds are the oldest. There are just two species of lyrebird, Albert’s and Superb.

Albert’s Lyrebirds can live to more than 40 years and are incredible songsters and mimics.

Photo: Kimbal Curtis

Rufous Scrub-bird (Atrichornis rufescens)

As noted above, scrub-birds and lyrebirds are the oldest line of songbirds in the world. As for lyrebirds, there are just two species of scrub-bird, Rufous and Noisy, with the latter occurring only in the southwest corner of Western Australia. The scrub-birds are so different from other birds that, like lyrebirds, they are placed in their own family. So, the only two species in the family are separated by 3500 kilometres!

Photo: Michael Morcombe

Logrunner (Orthonyx temminckii)

Logrunners evolved on the Australian landmass more than 25 million years ago. Fossils found at Riversleigh in northwestern Queensland and in cave deposits in Victoria and South Australia indicate they were widespread across eastern Australia at a time when it was covered with rainforest. As rainforest contracted, so too did the logrunners and today they are found only in central eastern Australia and New Guinea with another species in the genus, the Chowchilla, found only in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Photo: David Pavlacky

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)
Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus)

As noted above, bowerbirds belong to an ancient line of songbirds. Bowerbirds, found only in Australia and New Guinea, are the only birds in the world to decorate their courting bowers. The Satin Bowerbird likes blue objects, including human accessories such as clothes pegs and bottle caps, for bower decoration, but the artificial decorations apparently don ’t impress females. The Regent Bowerbird is generally restricted to the higher altitudes.

Photo: Mark Ash
Photo: Aila Keto

Southern Angle-headed Dragon (Lophosaurus spinipes)

There are just two species of Lophosaurus in Australia and one in New Guinea. Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Lophosaurus boydii) is found only in the Wet Tropics of Queensland, while the Southern Angle-headed Dragon occurs in rainforests in southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales.

There is debate about the origins of Lophosaurus. While there is agreement that it is of Gondwanan origin, it has been suggested by some authors that it arose in Australia and spread to New Guinea and adjoining areas while others suggest it entered Australia from the north.

Photo: Evan Peters

Land Mullet Bellatorias major)

The Land Mullet, measuring up to three-quarters of a metre from nose to tip of tail, is the largest skink in Australia and possibly the world. They can live for more than 25 years and are found only in rainforests and wet forests in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales, predominantly in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

Bellatorias is predominantly an Australian genus with only one species occurring in New Guinea. It is likely that the group arose in Australia.

Members of this genus and others in the Egernia group of skinks show strong social relationships, living in ‘nuclear family’ systems and forming long-term pair bonds.

Photo: Mark Ash

Photo: Aila Keto

Loveridge’s Frog or Masked Mountain Frog (Kyarranus loveridgei)

Loveridge’s Frog is found only in high-altitude rainforests (above 750 metres) on the MacPherson Range in southeast Queensland and across the border in far northeast New South Wales. A rare, relatively small frog, it breeds its young in flask-shaped burrows in soft soil or in mossy cavities beside streams.

Fossils of Kyarranus have been found in deposits at Riversleigh, indicating their ancient origins and widespread occurrence when rainforests covered the continent.

Photo: Keith Scott & Aila Keto

Marsupial or Hip-pocket  Frog (Assa darlingtoni)

The Marsupial Frog is a rare species found only in high-altitude rainforests on the MacPherson Range in southeast Queensland and the adjoining Border Ranges area in New South Wales. It is almost unique in raising its young in ‘pockets’ on its flanks. Its nearest relative is in South America, indicating its Gondwanan origin.

Photo: H. Ehmann

Black-soled Frog (Lechriodus fletcheri)

The Black-soled Frog occurs in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest from southeast Queensland to northeast New South Wales. It is the only member of the genus in Australia with three other species in New Guinea.

Fossils of Lechriodus have been found at Riversleigh and at Murgon, the latter being about 55 million years old.

Our camera-trapping recordings at Springbrook show that amplexus (mating) can last for 15 hours or longer.

Photo: Mark Ash

Lamington Blue Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus sulcatus)

Euastacus belongs to a family of freshwater crayfish found only in eastern Australia and South America indicating its likely Gondwanan origins.

Apart from this species, there are two other species, Euastacus maidae and Euastacus valentulus recorded from Springbrook National Park.

Euastacus maidae is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List.

Photo: Mark Ash

Pink Underwing Moth(Phyllodes imperialis)

This impressive moth has a wingspan of up to 14 cm. The larvae (caterpillars) of this moth feed on the rainforest vine, Carronia multisepalea, which occurs only in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales. In fact, it is restricted to low (collapsed) forms rather than upright forms of the vine and only in undisturbed rainforest.

This southern subspecies is listed as endangered.

Pink Underwing Moth caterpillar at Springbrook
Photo: © David Jinks

Photo: Don Sands

Other fauna of interest

Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus)

Riflebirds belong to a group of birds known as Birds of Paradise. The genus Ptiloris — the Riflebirds — is found only in Australia and New Guinea.

Two species are endemic to Australia, Paradise Riflebird and Victoria’s Riflebird. The Paradise Riflebird is found only in rainforests on the central eastern coast while Victoria’s Riflebird is confined to the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Riflebirds are generally found high in the rainforest canopy. Males perform an elaborate courting display on branches well above the ground.

Photo: Ceris Ash

Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis)

The Eastern Yellow Robin is considered to be among the first birds to greet the dawn wherever it lives. Whereas it occurs in a variety of forest types, it requires a relatively dense bushy understorey and can disappear from forest areas after fire that leads to a grassy ground layer.

Photos: Evan Peters

Photo: Mark Ash

Short-eared Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus caninus)

Formerly known as the Mountain Brushtail Possum or Bobuck, Trichosurus caninus lost that name to the southeastern Australia population when that population was separated as a different species.

The females and young are generally grey, but some males and, rarely, females develop striking jet black fur as in the photo.

Based on our observations at Springbrook, they appear to be much more gentle and friendly than the Common Brushtail Possum and remain in family groups for several years.

Photo: Evan Peters

Red-necked Pademelon (Thylogale thetis)

Pademelons are members of the kangaroo family. There are two species in the rainforests at Springbrook, the Red-necked and the Red-legged.

Unfortunately, agencies responsible for road management maintain grassy verges that attract grazing pademelons. This leads to regular roadkills as they cross the road back to the forest.

Photo: Mark Ash

Imperial Hairstreak Butterfly (Jalmenus evagoras)

The Imperial Hairstreak or Imperial Blue has a mutually beneficial association with ants of the Iridomyrmex genus. The ants protect the caterpillars and pupae from predators and parasites. In return, the caterpillars reward the ants by secreting ‘honey dew’.

The whole life cycle occurs on species of Acacia, commonly smaller plants in regenerating areas.

The top photo shows the butterflies and a pupa being attended by ants. The bottom photo shows pupae with some ants moving too fast for the camera to catch clearly.

Photos: Aila Keto