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From the editor


Spring is sprung and the frogs are calling you!


Frogs are well-known for their “cold-blood” and love of warm weather. Here in Victoria though, there are plenty of species that aren’t put off by the cold! Common Eastern Froglets were recorded regularly by The Frogs Are Calling You citizen scientists throughout the winter and now the Beeping Froglets (this issue’s Featured Frog) are joining in.


You don’t need to go far from home to hear the frogs calling you! If you have a pond on your property, or close to it, you can still join in the fun! All the details are at www.frogscalling.org.


Lynette Plenderleith

Project Coordinator, The Frogs Are Calling You


Featured Frog


Beeping Froglet Crinia parinsignifera

Photo by Geoff Heard


Also known as: Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet, Plains Froglet, Murray Valley Froglet.


Victorian distribution: Most of the state, except the coastal east and arid mallee.


Conservation: Not considered threatened.


Habitat: Under debris and amongst vegetation at the edges of ponds, swamps, flooded areas and puddles, especially in wooded or disturbed areas.


Call: A distinctive squelchy beep! Calls from mid-winter to spring.


And another thing: Beeping Froglets, just like other species in the genus Crinia (check out our “What’s in a name” article in this issue for more info), are really variable in colour and pattern. The best way to tell the species apart is by their calls. Download the FrogID app for help!


Quick Questions


Have you got a few minutes to help us get to know you? Please help us understand our audience by completing this short questionnaire.


If you follow The Frogs Are Calling You on social media, read the newsletter or receive communications from the project in any way, please help us! You don’t have to be signed up as a citizen scientist, you just have to be interested in the project.


You can find links to the questionnaire on our website, social media, or by scanning this QR code.


If you have already completed the survey, you are invited to complete it again – it’s helpful to us to see if the views of our audience has changed too!



Field Report


By Elaine Bayes, WetMAP field scientist


Visiting a wetland several times through its varied seasonal changes of wetting and drying is an amazing thing to behold. Everchanging suites of species visiting or appearing throughout different seasons means that no two visits are the same.


Wetlands are a constantly shifting landscape which flora and fauna have had to develop amazing adaptations to survive. From extreme drying to massive flooding. In fact, Australia has the most variable climate on earth.


During our WetMAP frog surveys we visit sites over different seasons, years and climatic events. One of my favourite sites is Doctors Swamp near Murchison in Northern Victoria. This is one of the most intact red gum swamps in Victoria. The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority has ensured that this wetland has received environmental water since 2010 as well as monitored wetland health and response to watering (which is a new and developing science).


I love to visit in spring when it is full of crystal-clear water and you can wade through stunning flowering aquatic plants (there are no leeches – phew!), disturbing red-bellied black snakes sun baking on giant logs. Then falling asleep at camp in the evening to a chorus of seven species of frog.


Common frog species we have found most times of year but more commonly in wetter times are:

Common Eastern Froglet, Crinia signifiera,

Beeping Froglet, Crinia parinsignifera

Emerald Spotted Tree Frog, Litoria peronii

Pobblebonk, Limnodynastes dumerilli

Spotted Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis

In winter months you get a nice surprise to hear the rarely found, winter calling Sloane’s Froglet (Crinia sloanei). All Crinia species have adapted to take advantage of any available water by having a rapid egg-tadpole-frog development time of six weeks. In comparison to Growling Grass Frogs which can be 12-15 months, which are restricted to wetlands that can hold water that long.


In autumn surveys we are lucky to find Sudell’s Frog (Neobatrachus sudellae), which we have only heard two years out of six, in May 2017 and 2020. This species is likely there at other times but has adapted to dry periods by using a little shovel on their feet to dig themselves deep into the damp subsoil.


I hope that you enjoy watching your froggy patch as much as we do. Don’t forget to record each visit on the Frog ID app, so your sightings are recorded. Multiple records particularly, help build frog ecological knowledge.

Emerald Spotted Tree Frog, Litoria peronii, photos by Geoff Heard



Lab Report



By Pam Clunie and Phil Papas, WetMAP Scientists, Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI)



The final report for WetMAP Stage 3 is out! This report summarises our findings from monitoring the response of frogs, as well as fish, vegetation and birds to environmental water. You can read about the work and access the report here: https://www.ari.vic.gov.au/research/wetlands-and-floodplains/assessing-wetland-response-to-water-for-the-environment


As mentioned in previous Croak! Lab Reports, we found that frogs responded quickly and positively to environmental watering. Environmental watering resulted in:


  • an increase in the number of native frog species

  • an increase in the number of native frogs present

  • breeding of native frogs. While there were few records of breeding, they all occurred in watered wetlands.


How much and how long wetlands were inundated played an important role in defining the species that occur there. However, the importance of the previous watering period on frog occurrence varied, generally related to how long the tadpoles of different species take to develop. In general, wetlands that were watered had similar abundances and numbers of frog species compared to wetlands that always have water in them. Providing key habitats such as tall emergent plants along the edges of wetlands can also be important for frogs. This indicates that management of wetlands for frogs will likely need to consider complementary management actions to meet their habitat needs.


Planning is well underway for the next stage of WetMAP. This means there will be more opportunities for frog citizen scientists to help collect valuable scientific data to directly support management. Environmental water released into wetlands aims to achieve particular environmental objectives, including providing feeding and breeding opportunities, habitat and refuge for frogs. Water managers (such as catchment management authorities), planners and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder consider both short term (annual) watering (through Seasonal Watering Plans) and longer term (decadal) watering (through Environmental Water Management Plans).


The recording of frog calls has proven to be very effective in detecting most species. The FrogID records collected by you will provide an important contribution to these data. As our plans for the next stage of WetMAP progress, we’ll be sharing further information with you about planned environmental watering events across particular wetlands in Victoria, so you will be able to witness and record the impact of environmental water on frogs as it happens!



What's in a name?

Why would anyone in their right mind choose to use the name Limnodynastes tasmaniensis instead of Spotted Marsh Frog?! Or Crinia parinsignifera instead of Beeping Froglet?


All organisms that have been described (a scientific description, published in the scientific literature) by scientists have a scientific name. Some people think of this as a “Latin name”, but scientific names are often of Greek origin (or both Latin and Greek!). When writing a scientific description, the team of scientists come up with a scientific name that suits the organism (or sometimes named for a person, such as Litoria littlejohni named after local frog expert Professor Murray Littlejohn).


The scientific name is made up of two parts – the first word is its genus (you could think of it as a surname), which is pre-determined by its relationship to other species. The genus always has a capital letter. The second part is the “specific epithet” – the particular name given to that species. Both names have to go together to make sense, because just as there are many people with the same first name there are also lots of organisms known by the same specific epithet (like “vulgaris”, meaning common). Each scientific name is unique to each species though. There are deliberately no double ups, unlike human names.

So by using the scientific name, everyone knows exactly what species is being discussed. For example, there are at least two species known by the common name “Carpenter Frog”, (one is Limnodynastes lignarius, found in WA and another, Lithobates virgatipes, that lives in the USA).


Chances are, context will help you out a lot – whether you are in either the US or Australia would probably give you a clue which frog is being talked about. But even if there’s only one species in question, common names can still be problematic. This issue’s featured frog, the Beeping Froglet, is a really good example of why the scientific name is often more useful. The species is known by lots of different names. Some people call it the Plains Froglet, because it’s found in the plains. Some people call it the Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet because it sometimes has a cross shaped marking. Some people call it the Murray Valley Froglet, because that’s where it’s found. But it’s also found in other places. So many names, so little time to work out which frog it is!


This is when scientific names become more useful and less annoying. Although the system isn’t perfect (and from time to time names change to reflect things like the understanding of genetic relationships), it does go a long way to standardising the names of organisms.


So why do scientists use common names at all? Because who in their right mind wants to make life more difficult by using a longer more complicated name, that’s also often hard to spell?! Colloquialisms may sometimes be more meaningful than science and the local names are as legitimate as any others!

Emerald Spotted Tree Frog / Peron’s Tree Frog, Litoria peronii by Geoff Heard



Find Out More


Environmental Water: www.vewh.vic.gov.au

WetMAP: www.ari.vic.gov.au

FrogID: www.frogid.net.au

The Frogs Are Calling You: www.frogscalling.org



Got Something To Share?


Have you got a photo to share?

Got a question you want answered?

Want to be featured in Citizen Spotlight?

Got a story to tell?


Drop us a line: www.frogscalling.org/contact-us

Email: Lynette@frogsvic.org

On social media: @frogscalling #frogscalling

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From the editor


The heat is all of a sudden upon us! For most frog species, the heat is the ideal time to call and breed, when they have more energy and life is easier. A wetter than average spring has also helped things along.


The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the La Niña conditions to last into the summer, which means higher than average levels of rainfall and good weather for frogs!


The tree frogs are beginning to call all over Victoria. But don’t be confused by the name, there are many species of tree frog that you are more likely to find on the ground than in the trees! It promises to be a good season for frogs in most habitats, so get your raincoat and gumboots on and have a wander in the rain, the frogs are calling you!


Lynette Plenderleith

Project Coordinator, The Frogs Are Calling You


Featured Frog


Southern Brown Tree Frog Litoria ewingii


Photo by Matt Clancy


Also known as: Brown Tree Frog, Whistling Tree Frog and Ewing’s Tree Frog


Distribution: Most of Victoria (not the north-west).


Conservation: Not considered threatened.


Habitat: Lots of places! Often found in gardens and suburban ponds, puddles, flooded grasslands, dams, lakes. It breeds in still waters, but adults can be found long distances from standing water.


Call: A whirring, almost soothing, fairly high-pitched pulsing call. They call mainly in spring and autumn, but may be heard at other times.


And another thing: Southern Brown Tree Frogs are also found in New Zealand where they are an invasive species (not native, introduced) and have continued to persist and spread.


Quick Questions


Have you got a few minutes to help us get to know you? Please help us understand our audience by completing this short questionnaire.


If you follow The Frogs Are Calling You on social media, read the newsletter or receive communications from the project in any way, please help us! You don’t have to be signed up as a citizen scientist, you just have to be interested in the project.


You can find links to the questionnaire on our website, social media, or by scanning this QR code.


If you have already completed the survey, you are invited to complete it again – it’s helpful to us to see if the views of our audience has changed too!



Field Report


By Elaine Bayes, WetMAP field scientist


When you have camped out for 14 nights or so and mainly hear common species, it is a real thrill to go, ‘Did you hear that? What is that calling?’ Particularly if it is a species that mostly calls in winter and one you may not have heard for a couple of winters. This happened on a more adventurous frog survey a few weeks ago at Reedy Swamp near Shepparton. The call was of a species in the Whistling Frog group, which is composed of three species. Two of these sound and look very similar; the Plains Brown Tree Frog (Litoria paraewingi) and the Southern Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingii). [Check out the Featured Frog column for comparison – ed.].


This is where the amazing service of the Frog ID app comes in. Having tricky calls confirmed by an expert is a very handy tool, which we highly recommend before adding species to any of the current databases. So, having a few hours to kill while waiting on the RACV to come help us (we learned that you can over deflate your tyres while trying to get un-bogged!), I tried to get a really clear recording of the call with my Frog ID app. I waded out to the middle of the wetland and got as close as I could to what we believed to be Plains Brown Tree Frog calling from tall Juncus ingens (Giant Reed) in the centre of the wetland. Together with the recording and some great photographs by Damien, Frog ID confirmed the identification to the best of their current knowledge, but stated that in the future more research will be done on this group of frogs and the identification may be reassessed.


Another exciting find was the mostly winter-calling Sloane’s Froglet (Crinia sloanei) at the amazingly intact Doctors and Moodies Swamps. Both these sites had three Crinia species calling. These species are very similar looking, but we can tell them apart by their calls and some subtle differences like pattern on the bellies and the fact that Sloane’s Froglet has small orange-capped warts.


So fellow froggers, enjoy getting out to collect valuable data on your Frog ID app while this wet weather lasts. It will fill your soul with joy, and our databases with data.

Plains Brown Tree Frog, Litoria paraewingii by Damien Cook (Rakali Consulting)


Reedy Swamp, near Shepparton, Victoria, by Dan Purdey



Lab Report


By Rob Hale, WetMAP scientist Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI)


In the last issue, I wrote an article outlining how Geoff Brown (also from ARI) and I had spent several weeks analysing data collected from the WetMAP frog monitoring program during 2018-2020. Our results showed clear benefits of environmental watering for frogs, and that water quality and habitat are also important.


Since the last issue, we have been busy writing a technical report summarising our key findings and providing recommendations to catchment management authorities and the Department of the Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) so that they can use the information to adapt the way they manage the flow of water for the environment. The report focuses not only on frogs but also vegetation, fish, and birds, which are being monitored as part of the wider WetMAP program. Collectively, our results provide a very detailed picture of the benefits of environmental watering for wetlands.


We reported that for both frogs and birds abundance (the number of individuals) and species richness (the number of species) were greater at watered sites. The same is possibly true for fish, but more data are required to confirm the significance of our findings. There was also more breeding activity in frogs, birds and fish at watered wetlands. Vegetation benefits too – we reported more plant material and more wetland species in watered wetlands.


The WetMAP team are now very busy planning for the next phase of the project. One of the ideas we are exploring is placing small devices (called “AudioMoths” – a very popular way to study wildlife, google for more info!) at wetlands to record frog calls that are then identified using computer programs. This is a fantastic way to collect very detailed information about frog calling and offers great promise as a tool to monitor responses to environmental watering in addition to data collected by scientists and citizen scientists.


What is a Wetland?

Dams, ponds, lakes, billabongs, swamps…


The term “wetland” refers to all of the above and more! Wetlands don’t have to be wet all the time to be considered wetlands. Wetlands don’t have to have standing water either – saturated ground also makes a wetland. Wetlands also don’t have to be fresh water – marine lagoons and inland saline wetlands can also count.


Some wetlands have trees growing in and around them and some wetlands may have no vegetation at all, or short, slow-growing vegetation. Man-made and natural waterbodies are both considered wetlands. Rivers and creeks are not normally considered wetlands in Victoria, but very slow-flowing waterways can sometimes count.


The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty on wetlands and it uses a broader definition that includes rivers. The Convention on Wetlands provides an international framework for the conservation and management of wetlands.


Gippsland Lakes Coastal Wetland RAMSAR listed significant site. Photo: RAMSAR Official site for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Wetlands are not just beautiful, providing support for biodiversity, they act as sediment traps and filter nutrients and pollutants, protecting the water that people drink. Around the world, wetlands support economies through tourism, food and recreation.


In Victoria, wetlands are an important part of Aboriginal cultural heritage and have provided food and livelihoods for people for thousands of years.

Even artificial ponds count as wetlands and have cultural and ecological value. Photo: Michael Coghlan


Find out more at:

https://www.ramsar.org/

https://www.water.vic.gov.au/waterways-and-catchments/rivers-estuaries-and-waterways/wetlands

Water, data, everywhere!


Want to create your own scientific project report? If you have collected lots of frog call recordings, you can probably have a go at collating your own WetMAP-style report! Follow the steps below to analyse your data.

1. Form a question or hypothesis. Good science always starts with a question you are trying to answer, or a hypothesis for which you are trying to find evidence. The more specific your question, the easier your analysis will be. A good question for a WetMAP-style study might be “Do more frog species call in my dam in spring?”


2. Have you got enough data? Generally speaking, the more data you’ve got the better. To find out if more frog species call in the spring, you’ll need repeated sampling, e.g. multiple recordings at the same location from different times of the year. The more data you have, the clearer your answer is likely to be.


3. Enter your data. If you’re computer-savvy, Microsoft Excel is an excellent place to start with statistics. But you don’t need to get fancy – good old-fashioned pencil and paper work well too! Make a table to enter your data into, like the one below.


4. Analyse your data. Straight away we can see by looking at the very basic descriptive statistics (e.g. total numbers, averages) that there is little difference in our dam between spring, summer and autumn, but that fewer species call from our dam in the winter. We can create a graph (either in a program like Excel or just on paper) to help visualise our results too (Fig 1).



5. We should also perform some inferential statistical tests to test for significance. Tests for statistical significance take into account things like the sample size, the differences between the descriptive statistics (and whether that’s likely to be true, based on how big those differences are) and the variation in the data. There’s not really space in one newsletter to explain all those wonderful statistical possibilities, but if you search the internet for “Inferential Statistics” there are lots of resources and ways to learn more.


6. Form a theory, reform your hypothesis, or ask another question. One of the best (and worst!) things about science is that one question always leads to more questions! In our example we could just leave it at what we have so far – the frogs in my dam call less in winter. Or we could ask more questions – maybe trying to find out why (“Do frogs call more when it is warm?”; “Do frogs call more when it is raining?) or maybe asking a similar question (“Do more frog species call in the warmer months?”). We could also just keep collecting data and see if we get any clearer patterns the more recordings we collect. But we probably have enough here to form a theory: “No more species of frogs call during the spring than the summer or autumn, but fewer species call in the winter”.


7. Write your report using all that you have found – make sure you include your question or hypothesis, your methods of data collection and analysis, your results and your theory and conclusions. Feel free to share them with us (frogscalling@frogsvic.org or on social media, @frogscalling or #frogscalling)! We’d love to know what you’ve found.



Find Out More


Environmental Water: www.vewh.vic.gov.au

WetMAP: www.ari.vic.gov.au

FrogID: www.frogid.net.au

The Frogs Are Calling You: www.frogscalling.org



Got Something To Share?


Have you got a photo to share?

Got a question you want answered?

Want to be featured in Citizen Spotlight?

Got a story to tell?


Drop us a line: www.frogscalling.org/contact-us

Email: Lynette@frogsvic.org

On social media: @frogscalling #frogscalling

21 views0 comments

Southern Brown Tree Frog Litoria ewingii


Photo by Matt Clancy


Also known as: Brown Tree Frog, Whistling Tree Frog and Ewing’s Tree Frog.


Distribution: Most of Victoria (not the north-west).


Conservation: Not considered threatened.


Habitat: Lots of places! Often found in gardens and suburban ponds, puddles, flooded grasslands, dams, lakes. It breeds in still waters, but adults can be found long distances from standing water.


Call: A whirring, almost soothing, fairly high-pitched pulsing call. They call mainly in spring and autumn, but may be heard at other times.


And another thing: Southern Brown Tree Frogs are also found in New Zealand where they are an invasive species (not native, introduced) and have continued to persist and spread.

7 views0 comments