FrogID: Citizen science saves frogs

frogs FrogID

FrogID is the new app launched to encourage citizen science in the area of frog conservation. Designed for explorers getting out in nature, the app records the frog calls you discover with the aim of counting Australia’s frogs in their habitats. Your recordings are sent to frog experts with the app to discover which species of frog, or frogs are singing to you. Once you’ve used the app long enough to become a frog call expert, you can join in on discovering which species other users have found.

Discovering a new species of frog? It could happen with FrogID! The app’s founder has plenty of experience in this area, having discovered 26 of the known 240 species in Australia. Dr. Jodi Rowley is the Curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology at the Australian Museum and UNSW.

Jodi spends her weekends trawling through swamps and ponds, looking for new froggy friends. “Every different noise I hear is a different species. One of my greatest fears is that future generations won’t be greeted by the chirps, whistles and trills of frogs but by silence.” says Jodi.

It’s a scary thought. Almost half of the world’s 6,600 species of frogs are at risk of extinction, the animal as a whole is declining faster than any bird or mammal. “Australia has 240 species of known frogs, at least four of these species are already extinct. We’ll never be able to hear them again, but luckily some of these calls are stored in the app.” says Jodi.

“Already there are some parts of the world where frogs have disappeared, where previously you would have heard over 80 different species of frog calling out to you. Now there’s only a handful.”

The green and golden bell frogs, FrogID

Above: The green and golden bell frog.

That’s where the citizen science comes in. Citizen science relies on the participation of large groups of… well, just about anyone. You don’t have to be a scientist to take part in recording data, but you’ll need a little skill and know-how if you want to start analysing it. Citizen science helps to break down the time and money spent in collecting large data sets. 850,000 people spent just under 500,000 hours collecting data for citizen science web portal Zooniverse. It would take one person 52 years to undertake the same task.

“Citizen science is one of the most useful developments in science in recent times. That everyone can assist in scientific endeavours is sort of obvious, but it’s never been harnessed.” says Mary O’Kane, NSW chief scientist.

Want a piece of the app action? Download FrogID now on the Google play, or search the app store.

-Eliza Brockwell

Read about the UNSW students designing apps to help you find a career.

Jodi Rowley frogs FrogID

“One of my greatest fears is that future generations won’t be greeted by the chirps, whistles and trills of frogs but by silence.” – Dr. Jodi Rowley

Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.

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