Thursday, 7 December 2017

Australia's frog count: App calls on citizen scientists

Croaks and chirps. Even whistles and barks.

These are some of the sounds that Australian frogs make, and local biologists are hoping members of the public will help record them on a new app called FrogID.

It is part of a conservation effort to better track 240 frog species around Australia.

Scientists also believe the crowd-sourced mapping could lead to the detection of new species.

Australians are encouraged to record and upload the sounds of frogs they hear anywhere, from their suburban backyard to the outback.

More than 6,000 recordings have already been submitted since the Australian Museum launched the app on 10 November.

Scientists are excited about the sheer variety of recordings, with some endangered species in arid areas of northern Australia being captured on the app.

Data from the recordings is helping scientists paint a more detailed map of frog habitats, their breeding cycle and the risks they face.

Leading frog expert Dr Jodi Rowley said it was "almost impossible" for frog biologists to study the whole array of native frogs in depth, given the sheer size of the continent and limited resources. She said scientists often went out on expeditions to remote areas to track down a frog only to come back empty-handed.

Thus, an app where "citizen scientists" all around the country help scientists log frog calls and identify species was of huge assistance, she said.

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