Each spring for the past 35 years, a small army of citizen scientists (or “froggers,” as they proudly call themselves) head out into the darkness to survey seasonal wetlands, marshes, lakes and rivers to help DNR conservation biologists document the breeding calls of frogs and toads throughout Wisconsin.
“Once again, it’s time for volunteers to lend us their ears,” says Andrew Badje, the DNR conservation biologist who coordinates the department’s Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey. “The information volunteers provide is essential to monitoring and conserving frogs and toads in Wisconsin.”
The traditional, long-standing survey requires driving along a pre-set route for three nights. Volunteers make 10 stops per night, spending five minutes at each site, to document the species heard calling and the relative abundance of each species. See the available 2019 survey routes at wiatri.net.
More volunteers are needed for a special effort to survey mink frogs, which often call in the daytime. Volunteers listen twice during the day and twice at night along set routes in June and early July.
The survey was launched in 1984 amid concerns of declining populations of several species of frogs. Through the survey, citizen scientists have helped DNR conservation biologists define the distribution, status and population trends of all 12 frog and toad species in the state.
Volunteers are currently documenting the highest levels of American bullfrogs and Blanchard’s cricket frogs since the survey began – a sign that proactive conservation measures for these two species are likely paying off.
Read more about the survey and its results in the April 2016 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.