By Elaine Bayes, WetMAP field scientist
Hi, I’m Elaine, a wetland ecologist, and together with Dr Geoff Brown from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, I have been carrying out the frog monitoring for the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program for environmental water (WetMAP - see the “Putting the wet in wetland” article for more – Ed.). We started monitoring in 2018 to ascertain if environmental watering makes a difference to frog diversity and abundance. The ecology of wetlands is very complex and understanding how and when to water them is new and challenging. This project is one of the most comprehensive ever undertaken and involves many elements, including surveying frogs and their habitat.
So what do we actually do? Well, we survey 29 wetlands. Each survey involves us setting up multiple 50 metre transects at each wetland. During the day we look at habitat structure and water quality, and at night, we listen and actively search for frogs, tadpoles, eggs etc.
Standing in the dark listening to frogs is a lovely thing to do, as I am sure all of you citizen scientists out there will agree. Slightly less exciting is trying to find your locations in the dark, often through the bush and in tricky to get to spots. By midnight we are happy to collapse in bed counting frogs in our sleep.
Our results so far have yet to be analysed, particularly the sound recorders. But up until August 2019 a total of over 6,300 frog records, representing eight species, were recorded. The most frequently recorded species were Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) and Perons Tree Frog (Litoria peronii). Conversely, the nationally endangered Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis) which used to be common in northern Victoria, surviving in irrigation channels, was only found in the North Central at Wirra-Lo Wetland. The Mallee Spadefoot (Neobatrachus pictus) was rarely recorded, only four records.
Autumn-winter surveys are about to commence. These data, along with all the citizen science data will be collated, analysed and reported in the newsletter later this year.
Winter is frog heaven, so wrap up and go frog hunting. The Frog ID App really makes frog monitoring for everyone a breeze. Simply download the app and go to your favoured spot and hit record. They will even send you an email confirming the species you found.
So see you out there!
Frogs are more active at night so as to avoid predators