We’re just back from a long weekend of family camping. It was loads of fun, and exciting too, because it was WET. We camped through Perth’s first real rains for the year, and within hours of them falling, our tent site (and the toilet block) was full of tiny frogs. HOW AWESOME!!
Want to know what sort of frogs they were? Well, grab your phone and start recording. Whether it’s a ribbet, croak, chirp or trill, a frog’s call can be used to identify it.
That’s the idea behind FrogID, a free app launched by Dr Jodi Rowley, a frog expert at the Australian Museum.
“FrogID is an attempt to get an army of frog biologists out there, young and old, reporting where frogs are,” says Dr Jodi Rowley, frog expert at the Australian Museum.
“We have 240 native frog species in Australia, but we don’t really know how they’re distributed, or how they’re doing.”
Since its launch, more than 20,000 frog calls have been recorded using the app!
Join the FrogID army
Discovering which frogs live in your area is as simple as waiting near a wetland, pond, dam or creek, or even in your backyard.
“The best time is just after dark, and if it has rained recently, it’s even better,” says Dr Rowley.
When you hear a frog, use the app to record its call. You then match the call with the calls of frogs likely to be in your area, and send your best guess to the Australian Museum.
“You’ll get a notification about whether your guess was right or wrong, and you’ll get better at identifying the frogs in your area,” says Dr Rowley.
The app is paired with a website that allows you to join groups and compete with other schools.
What is citizen science?
FrogID is a citizen science project. That means it’s a hands-on research project that scientists and volunteers work on together.
It’s not easy being green
Dr Rowley wasn’t always a lover of frogs. “I was quite a city girl, my parents didn’t take me camping. It wasn’t until I studied environmental science that I even began to realise frogs were out there.”
Now she’s discovered just how fragile frogs are. “Frogs are amazing, gorgeous, precious things that really need our help,” she says. “FrogID is a bit of a rescue mission…we need information to help them.”
Your FrogID reports will be used to track where frogs are found, how populations are changing, and to discover new populations of threatened species. “This is a cool way to monitor frogs just by listening to their calls,” Dr Rowley says. “We may even discover new species.”
Top 5 frogs to spot
The frogs you hear depend a lot on where you are, Dr Rowley says. They’re also more active during summer and spring, so now’s a great time to get out there. Her top 5 frogs to spot are:
Striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii): Around 6 cm long and common along the East coast. They make a ‘bok, bok, bok’ noise, like a tennis ball being hit.
Common Eastern froglet (Crinia signifera): Around 2–3 cm long and common along the East coast. They make a ‘crick, crick, crick’ call, a bit like a cricket.
Green tree frog (Litoria caerulea): A large frog (12 cm) found in all states except Tasmania and Victoria. Also known as the dunny frog as you can often find them in outback toilets.
Peron’s tree frog (Litoria peroni): A colour-changing frog (5 cm) found in northern Victoria, New South Wales and southern Queensland. Has a cackling, drill-like call.
Motorbike frog (Litoria moorei): A large frog (up to 14 cm) found in pools and backyards in south-west Australia. Named for the male frog’s call, which sounds like a motorbike changing gears.
Cane toad alert
Our native frogs are often confused with the cane toad—a poisonous pest. “It’s the only toad we have in Australia, and that’s our fault, we introduced them,” says Dr Rowley. “FrogID will also help us track the cane toad invasion, and how they’re moving across Australia.”
Cane toad (Rhinella marina): A warty 10–15 cm toad, found across north and south America—and spreading out in Australia. “The cane toad has a constant trill that goes on and on… None of our native frogs sound like that.”
This article first appeared in Crinkling News. The frogs-in-the-toilet-block happened yesterday 🙂