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Soil disturbance in integrated logging operations and the potential impacts on a fossorial Australian frog

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Forestry practices have been shown to impact on amphibian species to varying degrees. Burrowing amphibian species may be of less concern as they may be able to escape the direct impacts of a logging operation. The giant burrowing frog Heleioporus australiacus is a threatened frog species in south-eastern Australia. Logging is currently excluded from known habitat of this species. We examine aerial photographs to determine the extent of soil disturbance in 15 coupes in which integrated logging has occurred and 15 unlogged coupes. We then examine the extent of soil disturbance in a standard operation in a simple field experiment to assess the potential for a logging operation to affect H. australiacus. Approximately 65% of a coupe experiences medium to high levels of soil disturbance during an integrated logging operation. These disturbances appear to be at a level which would be disruptive to an individual H. australiacus occupying such sites. Alternate logging practices result in varying levels of disturbance and therefore are likely to have varying impacts on individuals. Active management of an area following a logging operation may improve the habitat for H. australiacus and other soil organisms.


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