Written by Melanie James and Alex Callen 

The Conservation Biology Research Group at the University of Newcastle recently sent researchers Melanie James and Alex Callen to Noumea, New Caledonia to conduct the 2nd annual survey of a local green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) population. Courtesy of Post-Doctoral Scientist Michelle Stockwell, the research involved assessing population size and bell frog survival alongside prevalence of the disease chytridiomycosis, which threatens the bell frog in Australia. For further details on the research from this trip, see our other blogs.

Check out this blog to see us at work and play.

Green Turtle Melanie James thin

Our budget mini car could barely get over mountainous terrain, which was fun, screaming down the freeway between Noumea and the field site at 70km/hr (in a 110km/hr zone). We had to turn off the air conditioning to keep moving (wrong side of the road!!!). We had no GPS, just a vague map and Melanie’s brain. Still, this did not distract us from the hunt for the bell frog.

Alex Callen 2

Although the bell frog is not a cryptic species, we checked out a number of water bodies to determine if they were viable habitat (weather station readings indicated a sheltered but sunny pond, but water quality was not appropriate).

Melanie Sandra James Alex Callen

After an extensive reconnaissance, it was confirmed there were no bell frogs in the metropolitan water bodies, and we widened our study area to include the largest pond available (the Pacific Ocean). Sadly, no bell frogs were detected here, but, in the continuous pursuit of science, we discovered the catching bags performed as adequate flotation devices (PPE).

Melanie Sandra James and Alex Callen frogging in ocean

But… we successfully found bell frog habitat in the town of Piata!

Green and Golden Bell Frog New Caledonia Melanie Sandra James

Desperate to blend in with the locals in this festive season in Noumea, we got into the Christmas spirit with our own frog Christmas tree, and loaded up with herpetological shopping on a nightly basis.

Green and golden bell frog Alex Callen and Melanie Sandra James christmas

Then… we spent all night and the following day cataloguing our presents under the most arduous of circumstances. This was pretty hard…

Green and golden bell frog Alex Callen Melanie Sandra James

Data Entry Alex Callen

We spent the daytime recovering and lamenting not being back home in the laboratory.

Green Turtle Melanie Sandra James

Melanie Sandra James and Alex Callen

Melanie Sandra James 2




Melanie Sandra James – PhD researcher

Alex Callen – PhD researcher

Melanie Sandra James  

Alex Callen