Imagine you are out for a walk on a quiet evening. You hear all kinds of animal sounds and wonder what they might be. Well, if it’s spring, summer or even fall, you can bet that some of those sounds are frogs and toads. In Northeast Ohio alone there are 11 species of frogs, and a trained member of FrogWatch USA can identify them all!
FrogWatch USA is a national citizen science program that your Akron Zoo has been involved with since 2015. We train volunteers, or citizen scientists, to identify local frog and toads species by their calls. These volunteers then visit nearby wetland sites to listen and record any frogs they hear. Their data is then entered into a national database that can be used by scientists and other researchers to monitor the health of wetlands across the country.
Frogs were chosen for this project because they are cool, of course, but also because they are considered an indicator species. Since frogs spend their lives both on land and in the water, they are one of the first animals to show the side effects of changes in wetland ecosystem. By monitoring frog populations in designated wetland areas, researchers can determine if a wetland is flourishing based on estimated frog populations. Sadly, many frog and toad species today have drastically shrinking numbers.
Despite being a national program to monitor frogs, FrogWatch USA is great because it is run by local chapters who are loosely managed by a central organization. This allows for people all across the United States to participate in the program and cooperate to create a national database. For the last several years, FrogWatch was managed by the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA). During that time, the Akron Zoo participated as an active chapter, adding thousands of observations to the database over the years. However, the AZA recently began looking for a new home to manage the program, and the Akron Zoo rose to the occasion! The entire FrogWatch USA program is now managed by our Education and Conservation departments, and we are proud to lead the charge, not only for Northeast Ohio, but also for the rest of the country!
FrogWatch USA recruits volunteers every January, and we would love to have you as part of our team! If you are passionate about the future of our amphibian friends and would like to learn more about the program, please check out FrogWatch USA on our website or email email@example.com.
By Carrie Bassett, Education Mission Manager. Published Oct. 11, 2022.