Now I’m sure you are asking, what in the world is Frog Watch, so I’m going to fill your head full of fun stuff I learned.
According to the web site, “FrogWatch USA is AZA’s flagship citizen science program that allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads…
Frogs and toads also play an important role, serving as both prey and predator, in wetland ecosystems and are considered indicators of environmental health. Many previously abundant frog and toad populations have experienced dramatic population declines both in the United States and around the world and it’s essential that scientists understand the scope, geographic scale, and cause of these declines.”
During class, we learned more about what citizen science is and how this data will be beneficial. Then we learned more about amphibians and the types that exist. We also learned the protocol for monitoring frogs and toads in wetlands in order to be able to submit data that is uniform for all observers. Then we learned to identify 16 frogs and toads that can be found in SC by what they look like and what they sound like. There are more than 16 but the trainers didn’t want to overwhelm us. By giving us a sample of the sounds and also relating it to sounds that we know, it was easier to connect the calls with the specific animal that we were identifying. Also, there is a 2 minute of silence before you start in order for the observer and the animals to settle down once you arrive. Then you monitor for 3 minutes and then record data such as date, time, weather, temperature, wind, frogs and toads you heard.
We were given a few handouts, a handy field guide, and a CD with some calls so that we could come home and practice. You can find the frogs and toads in your state by going to this page. This training along with the enthusiasm of the teachers made me want to learn more. I can’t wait to practice identifying frogs and toads by their calls but I can see now that this may take a lot of hard work. It is not recommended that you record the sounds at the site but instead document what you observe. It seems like this is like learning a new language and I should practice at least 10 minutes every day. Hopefully I will get better and better at identification in this way.
Once I feel comfortable identifying them using the CD, phone apps, and web sites, I would like to go to a local site and shadow someone who is doing actual monitoring and filling out the data sheets. When I begin filling out the data sheets, four of them need to be submitted to our local trainer to see if I am on track and monitoring it the way I should. I like the way I wasn’t pressured that I had to learn all of the calls, and fill out the data sheet perfectly the first time. Also, the time I want to be involved in monitoring is really up to me and I am not tied down to specific dates and times. This freedom makes me feel comfortable in easing into this whole process.
Frog Watchers of Greenville Zoo (FROGZ) even has its own facebook page.
So, I would recommend you find a Frog Watch chapter near you by clicking here. Not only will you be helping the environment, but it is a lot of fun too!
Original photo by Pat Hensley