They are hardly seen but often heard and have an amazing variety of colours, sizes, calls and behaviours. Like the canary carried by coal miners to test for dangerous gases, Australian frogs are the signallers of the dangers of climate change and need your help! Enter the great citizen science effort from the Australian Museum: Frog ID!
It’s Frog ID week from 12-21 November, but you can take part any time of the year by downloading the app and recording frog calls in your area. The best bit? You’ll soon become a frog call expert, and you’ll get an email from museum experts to confirm your observation.
More than 240 frog species are under threat from climate change, bushfires, floods, habitat loss and degradation, and disease, according to the museum.
Dr Jodi Rowley, Lead Scientist for FrogID, and Curator of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Biology at the Australian Museum and UNSW Sydney (The University of NSW), says this FrogID Week is critical in helping Australia’s frogs.
In less than four years, more than 460,000 records of 205 different frog species have been verified and made available to scientists, land-managers and the public thanks to tens of thousands of frog citizen scientists participating in FrogID.
“Our frogs are suffering – they are sensitive to environmental change and this year they are dying in large numbers,” she says.
“We need the help of people all over Australia to record frog calls so we can understand the health of our frog populations across the country.
“We are missing even basic information on frogs – there are areas in Australia that have no scientific records of frogs, even though they are there.
“We need everyone recording calls in their backyards, in bushland, in paddocks, around dams, in remote outback areas, in rainforests, on mountain slopes and on farmland,” she says.
“We need an army of citizen scientists to get on board this November and help us to help our frogs.”
This year, FrogID Week is focused on:
- Seeking audio of the call of a newly discovered species, Gurrumul’s Toadlet (Uperoloeia gurrumuli) from the Wessel Islands of northern Australia. This species is new to science and there are no existing calls on record.
- Tracking the Tusked Frog (Adelotus brevis), which was rediscovered on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, after a 40-year absence. Their distinctive ‘chirrup’ call was again heard west of Tenterfield on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, and recorded with the Australian Museum’s FrogID app. For now, this site represents the only known location of this endangered population of Tusked Frogs.
Gathering calls from 15 priority species, including Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea) in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Green Tree Frogs in these areas have suffered huge losses over the winter months and the AM desperately need to understand what impact this mortality event has had on frog populations.
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs