We are toad-ally committed to amphibian conservation here at the Zoo, and we want to invite you to join us right in your backyard! You can help local frogs and toads by becoming citizen scientists and reporting callings of species through FrogWatch USA.
This nationwide program facilitated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recruits the public to help monitor local amphibian populations in order to assess the conservation status of native species. The Zoo has taken part in FrogWatch USA for nearly 12 years, and we’ve reached over 500 citizen scientists through trainings and presentations.
But why is this important? Frogs are an indicator species, which means their populations are among the first to decline when environmental conditions take a turn for the worse. They are also an integral part of the food web. Tadpoles eat mosquito larvae and feed on algae, keeping the waterways clean, while adult amphibians eat large quantities of insects, including those that could transmit fatal illnesses such as malaria to humans. Frog and toads are important food items for predators, too.
Although you may observe many frogs or toads in your backyard, over 40% of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Pollution, disease, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change and over-harvesting for the pet and food industries all plague frogs and toads throughout the world.
Through our FrogWatch program, community members of any age (yes, that means you!) can participate in a training to learn the importance of amphibians and their habitats and then gather all the tools necessary to begin collecting data. Training is currently taking place virtually, and it’s just $5 to sign up! Participants receive a flash drive of all the information covered and can officially call themselves “citizen scientists”. Volunteers can then step right into their backyard to begin listening for amphibian sounds and identify local species.
Although it’s called FrogWatch, participants actually report amphibian calls! This is because frog species are uniquely identified by their calls—some species can look identical but have very different sounding calls. It’s also often easier to hear frogs than to see them as they can be quite loud! Here in Florida, only males of each species call in order to attract mates.
The data collected by trained FrogWatch volunteers helps scientists determine where species are located so those scientists can develop effective conservation strategies to help these frogs and toads. Since the Zoo began participating in this program, our FrogWatch participants have identified over 20 species throughout Brevard County!
You can make a difference for amphibians by joining FrogWatch or doing your part to preserve your local wetlands. Our next virtual FrogWatch training sessions will take place on March 23 and April 21. Click here to register!
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.