Presented by Megan Suthers
Honours Candidate, University of NSW
Supervisor: Dr Jodi Rowley (AM, UNSW)
Wildlife disease is a major driver of global biodiversity loss, however, determining its population-level impacts presents a logistical challenge, with data typically required urgently and across a wide spatial scale. However, citizen science presents an opportunity to rapidly gather data across large geographical scales. I leverage data from the citizen science project, FrogID, to investigate the impact of a mass frog mortality event that occurred across Australia in 2021. I used the submitted frog calls to assess changes in species distribution and abundance post-mortality event. There was no significant difference in the number of grid cells (10km2) the 30 most well-sampled frog species were detected in pre- and post-mortality event. Similarly, there was no significant difference in the abundance of five species commonly reported in the mortality event, as estimated by the number of calling males in audio recordings.
Overall, I reveal no evidence of short-term reductions in distribution or abundance, but continued monitoring is required to investigate long-term impacts and targeted scientific surveys are required for species less sampled via citizen science. My study highlights the utility of citizen science in rapidly assessing the impact of wildlife disease across a large spatial scale, integral to direct effective conservation action.