Hopping to it: 200,000 frog records in three years of FrogID
With 200,000 recorded frog calls comes a lot of valuable information! With the help of citizen scientists, a small, 3 cm sized threatened Sydney frog is verified as the 200,000th record for Australian Museum’s national FrogID project.
Frogs are in decline across the globe and there is an urgent need to understand where they are, and how we can protect them. There is a considerate lack of information on frogs across Australia and to address this, we need the community to get involved. Our national FrogID project is in its third year and recently reached 200,000 verified frog calls. An amazing feat such as this could not have been possible without the thousands of FrogID users across the country and the team of experts verifying each submitted frog croak, click and whistle.
The 200,000th verified FrogID record was of the Red-crowned Toadlet (Pseudophryne australis) submitted by frog-enthusiast Tom Kristensen in southern Sydney. Males of this species can be heard calling to attract females in bushland around Sydney after rains. Tom has been listening out for frog calls for years, but since he started using the FrogID app, his listening has sharpened. At first he thought the creaky calls coming from the ground belonged to a more widespread, related species, Bibron’s Toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii), but after feedback from the FrogID team, it was discovered that Tom had recorded Red-crowned Toadlets - a small, threatened species that can only be found in the Sydney Basin in NSW. “I’m now recognising individual frogs calling and hearing these new frogs joining in. It’s all quite exciting, but even more thrilling is the knowledge that these calls are made by a species of frogs listed as vulnerable to extinction,” Tom said.
Frogs are sometimes heard calling before they are seen. With a body size up to 3 cm and usually calling from leaf litter, seeing a Red-crowned Toadlet may not be that easy. When seen however, they are a treat for the eyes with striking bright orange patches on their head and lower back.
When asked if Tom had seen a Red-crowned Toadlet before, he said only once by chance when moving a rock in the backyard. Knowing where they live now, he is careful not to disturb them. Their call which sounds like a grating “rreeck” can be differentiated from other frog species.
Red-crowned Toadlet, Pseudophryne australis, audio.
With more rain falling this year than last year, FrogID is receiving more frog calls from the community. Tom’s recording is less than a minute but plays a big role for the Red-crowned Toadlet’s conservation and management. Its restricted range around sandstone areas of Sydney makes it vulnerable to habitat loss. FrogID recordings like Tom’s help us understand how the Red-Crowned Toadlet is hanging on as much of its range was impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires. Tom’s recording joins thousands of other FrogID records in its national database of geo-referenced species.
Regular FrogID records submitted at the same areas over time are building our picture of frog species across Australia. The publications that have been produced through FrogID illustrate the important scientific outcomes that can arise from citizen science. The app can be downloaded for free and whenever you hear (or think you hear!) a frog call, simply record it through the app. Like Tom, you too could learn that you have a threatened frog species living in your backyard or bushland.
FrogID reached its first 100,000 verified frog records in 20 months and it took just another 12 months to reach over 200,000. Thanks to the efforts of FrogID users like Tom, thousands more expert verified frog records are on the map, increasing our understanding of Australia’s frogs, and informing their conservation.
Nadiah Roslan, FrogID Coordinator, Australian Museum Research Institute
We thank the > 30,000 FrogID citizen science contributors who have helped reach this milestone through continuously sending us their recordings. We also thank the entire FrogID team at the Australian Museum, and FrogID partners: IBM, John T Reid Charitable Trusts, Bunnings and Fyna Foods.
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