FrogWatch USA Monitoring Protocols
FrogWatch USA volunteers play an important role in amphibian conservation. Over 2000 amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction and many more are experiencing sharp population declines. This alarming trend may be a sign of deteriorating wetland health because amphibians can serve as indicator species.
Because FrogWatch USA data describes local species diversity, detects rare and invasive species, and suggests shifts in species diversity, range, and seasonal timing (phenology), consistent implementation of the FrogWatch USA protocols is essential to ensure scientific validity. Before each new FrogWatch USA season (February - August) begins, be sure to review the monitoring protocols below.
Data Collection Protocols
- Select and register a site by completing the site registration form.
- Plan to monitor at least 30 minutes after sunset. Monitoring activity should conclude by 1:00 a.m.
- Consider the temperature, precipitation, and wind conditions before visiting your site. Do not monitor if severe or inappropriate weather occurs or is predicted.
- Upon arrival for a monitoring visit, note any changes to your site. Remember to respect the area in which you are in and minimize any disturbance.
- Record all weather information asked for on the datasheet including air temperature, wind speed (based on the Beaufort Wind Scale), current precipitation, and weather history.
- Remain quiet for at least two (2) minutes before collecting data so the frogs and toads acclimate to your presence.
- When you are ready, cup your hands around your ears and listen for precisely three (3) minutes.
- Remain quiet and still during the 3 minute data collection period or the frogs and toads may stop calling if you make noise.
- After 3 minutes, record:
- The time you started listening
- The time you stopped
- The different species you heard
- The call intensity for each species (use the Call Intensity Index described on the datasheet)
- Additional information gathered can be documented in the "Notes" section of the datasheet.
If your listening is interrupted by a loud noise or disturbance (e.g. airplane, cell phone ringing), restart the 2 minute acclimation period followed by the 3 minute data collection session. Remember to change the start time on the data sheet.
Datasheets should be submitted as soon as possible after each monitoring visit to the online FrogWatch USA database.
The online database requires Adobe Flash. If unable to access the database, you may submit data electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If email is not available, datasheets may be sent via U.S. mail to:
FrogWatch USA Coordinator
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
8403 Colesville Road, Suite 710
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Bringing these materials to the field is important for safety and data accuracy.
- Copy of the FrogWatch USA protocol
- A FrogWatch USA datasheet
- A clipboard covered with plastic to protect the datasheet from inclement weather
- Pencil or indelible ink pen
- Thermometer to measure ambient temperature
- Cell phone
- Rain gear
- Audio recording device (optional to record calls)
Your safety is important. If you feel uncomfortable about your surroundings, stop monitoring and leave the site. Some common-sense precautions include:
- Bring a first aid kit.
- Wear long sleeves and pants to protect against insects.
- Park in a safe location and be sure your car does not block traffic.
- Test whether your cell phone works from your monitoring site and take it with you if it does (remember to silence it while monitoring).
- Become familiar with your monitoring site by visiting during daylight hours.
- Do not monitor if severe or inappropriate weather occurs or is predicted.
- Monitor with a partner and / or let someone know where you are and when you intend to return.
- Be aware of poison ivy and other types of poisonous vegetation as well as ticks, hornets, and other types of wildlife.