Saturday, March 26, 2011

Listen up for Frogs!

Photo Courtesy: Steven J. Dunlop
Today's "Spring into Citizen Science" post is a little bit different.  We'll be looking at Frogwatch USA, a program sponsored and run by zoos and aquariums from across the country.  This is very similar to the birdwatching projects we've discussed that track populations of a target species to better understand their health and the local ecology.  But the main difference is the active involvement of local zoos that provide hands-on training,  They also organize volunteers into self-supporting chapters that provide a community of like-minded citizen scientists you can interact with.

The Frogwatch web site also includes lists of native frogs and toads in each state with links to descriptions for each. So someone like me can find lists of frogs in the Maryland area, see that the American Bullfrog is native to the area, and learn all about it. I can even listen to examples of the frog call right on the site in case I forget it after taking the training course.

Most chapters have an introductory program that teaches participants about local frogs and how to identify their mating calls.  So you don't even need to hunt around for frogs...just sitting on your back porch listening for a few minutes a week is all it takes.

Getting Started is Easy:
  1. Visit the was page to learn more about the project.
  2. Click on Frogwatch: Become a Volunteer and join a local FrogwatchUSA branch at a zoo or aquarium near you.
  3. Take a short introductory course with the chapter, learn all about frog identification, and meet some new friends in process.
  4. Brew a cup of coffee, take a notebook outside, and listen to the sounds of all the frogs in your area.  That's it!

 Admittedly I haven't had a chance to actually start this project myself, breaking my own rules about working through all projects before blogging about them.   I just haven't had time for the class yet.  But if you've tried it out I'd love to hear from you.  Let us know about your experience in the comments below, and I'll be happy to include that information in future posts about this project.