Australian "citizen scientists" tune into frogs' whereabouts

2021-11-19 03:35:39 GMT2021-11-19 11:35:39(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

SYDNEY, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- An ecological campaign is encouraging Australians to keep their ears open for the chorus of croaks, hoots, ribbits, barks, hoots, and chirps of frogs in their neighbourhoods.

The Australian Museum (AM), as part of its FrogID Week, has devised an innovative way to get "citizen scientists" to monitor the nation's frog population.

Volunteers download the AM's FrogID phone app before venturing forth into the frogs' natural habitats such as leafy backyards, farmlands, bushland and waterways. There they record the male frogs' distinctive mating calls, then upload the recordings to the AM for species verification.

The exercise aims to be fun for inquisitive participants but there is a serious purpose behind the amateur sleuthing because the frogs, like those in many regions of the world, are facing unprecedented threats from climate change, habitat loss, disease, invasive plants and animals.

"Our frogs are suffering," said AM amphibian and reptile conservation curator Dr Jodi Rowley, who leads the project.

"This year they are dying in large numbers," she said, referring to the sudden widespread decimation of frog populations across eastern Australia a few months ago.

Rowley said the cause of the mass deaths was still being investigated but keeping track of where various species are located can be one way to help solve such puzzles.

"We can truly play a part in helping species which are under threat," she said. "We can make a difference by recording the 'audio DNA' of frogs."

Rowley said there had been some notable successes so far including hearing frog calls in areas "which seemed totally wiped out by extreme bushfires last year."

"It shows us the capacity of some frog species to bounce back after destructive events." Enditem