Take advantage of Daylight Savings Time, and “Spring Forward” for amphibians through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) FrogWatch USATM citizen science program! Celebrate the season by taking action and engaging in conservation in your community.
FrogWatch USATM is dedicated to collecting information about frog and toad populations, raising awareness about amphibians and wetlands, and engaging the public in science. Since1998, FrogWatch USA™ volunteers have collected data on the frogs and toads heard calling in their local wetlands during evenings from February through August. Together, these volunteers contribute to a long-term, nationwide effort to gather information on species presence, habitat use, and changes over time.
Why frogs? Amphibians play an important role in the health of ecosystems, but more than 1/3 of the world’s amphibian species are currently facing the largest mass extinction event since the dinosaurs. Even in the United States, previously abundant amphibian populations have experienced dramatic declines.
“Frogs, toads, and other amphibians are sensitive to changes in the environment and therefore act as environmental indicators for factors that could negatively impact ecosystem and human health,” said Rachel Gauza, AZA’s Education and Outreach Coordinator.“The data collected by FrogWatch USA™ volunteers can be used to help understand the scope and geographic scale of amphibian declines and inform conservation and management efforts.”
You do not have to be a frog or toad expert to make an important contribution. More than 100 FrogWatch USA™ chapters across the nation–many of which are hosted by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums–are available to train and support you. Join a local chapter and learn how to identify frogs and toads by their unique breeding calls, select a wetland monitoring site, and collect and submit your observations.
This season, FrogWatch USA™unveiled a new web platform developed in partnership with the National Geographic Society so you can register your site and enter data online, as well as use maps and graphs to explore your observations alongside those of volunteers throughout the country.
“Seeing your observations reflected online in real time and comparing them to others adds a whole new element to what was traditionally an outdoors-only program,” said Shelly Grow, AZA’s Director of Conservation Programs. “We are thrilled with what the National Geographic Society has done for FrogWatchUSA™ and think volunteers will be, too.”
By moving to an online system, FrogWatch USA™ data are now readily accessible by anyone with an interest in frogs and toads. Learn more about FrogWatch USA and how you can participate by visiting www.aza.org/frogwatch.
FrogWatch USA™ chapter coordinator training is also available this season to pioneer new chapters and fill gaps in site location coverage. If you are part of an organization or institution interested in starting a FrogWatch USA™ chapter, you have a unique opportunity to attend a training workshop at no cost because of generous support from the National Science Foundation. Workshop participants will explore the benefits of citizen science and Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR); learn the ins and outs of FrogWatch USA™ and how to serve as a chapter coordinator; receive training on amphibian and wetland ecology and identification of local frogs and toad species; discover techniques for effective volunteer communication and management; build community support and collaborate with colleagues and like-minded individuals to share knowledge.
Register for upcoming workshops at IslandWood and Brightwater Center in Washington and El Paso Zoo in Texas. Additional workshops are currently being scheduled so check the website frequently or explore some of the online coordinator training course offerings.
Kick off Daylight Savings Time by “leaping” into our online community on Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. Post your amphibian photos, experiences, and videos like this one: Listen to the attached audio file to hear spring peepers, upland chorus frog, and southern leopard frogs heard in a stormwater pond in Clayton, North Carolina.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and six other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.