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.
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. Do not report any
species unless you are confident of the identification. 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
- 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
- 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
- The time you stopped
- The different species
you heard and can confidently identify
- 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 datasheet.
Data should be online FrogWatch USA
database as soon as possible after each monitoring visit. The
online data entry system requires Adobe Flash. If unable to access the database, you may
submit datasheets electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If email is not
available, datasheets may be sent via U.S. mail to:
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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 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)
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
- Park in a safe location and be sure your car does not
- Test whether your cell phone works from your
monitoring site and take it with you if it does (remember to silence it while
- Become familiar with your monitoring site by visiting
during daylight hours.
- Do not monitor if severe or inappropriate weather occurs or is
- 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