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.
Little Lake Meran, central Victoria