Citizen scientists searching for frogs

5:18 PM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A walk in the park with Mike Dawson isn't exactly a peaceful one.

"Right now it's just the toads that are calling," explained Dawson, Naturalist Instructor at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Well, unless of course the sound of frogs and toads is music to your ears.

"You wouldn't think that something so small can make that much noise but when you have hundreds of them calling at once it can get pretty loud," explained Ann Earley, a volunteer.

It's a sound Dawson and his crew of citizen scientists actually go in search of this time of year.

"That is a toad just like the ones we're hearing," Dawson pointed out.

They don't go out looking as much as listening.

"That other noise now is a leopard frog calling," he added.

Because each toad and frog has its own unique sound, and by figuring out which species are where citizens and scientist can learn more about the surrounding wetlands.

"If they happen to show up and they breed and they're doing well it's a good indication that the water quality is pretty good," Dawson explained.

There are other positives to the ear piercing shrills.

"One of the earliest one that calls is the spring peeper and that's always a welcome call to hear because it means the winter is coming to an end," Earley added.

It's up to volunteers like Earley to write down what she hears so all of the data can be collected and shared across the country through Frog Watch USA.

"Eventually at the end of the year you can see on a map of what species are where, what's calling," Dawson said.

It's not an assignment for everyone, but it does encourage you to stop and listen and maybe even appreciate the many sounds of frogs and toads.


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