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Citizen Scientist Participate in Successful FrogWatch Season
New York Ag Connection - 09/08/2017

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) extended its gratitude to member zoos and aquariums, chapter hosts, and members of the public who participated in the 2017 season of AZA's FrogWatch USA citizen science program.

Since its founding in 1988, FrogWatch USA has been dedicated to gathering information about frog and toad populations, raising awareness about amphibians and wetlands, and engaging the public in science. Each year, FrogWatch USA volunteers from across the nation collect data on the frogs and toads heard calling in their local wetlands during evenings from February through August. Together, these volunteers contribute to a long-term, nationwide effort to gather information on species presence, habitat use, and changes over time.

During the 2017 season, more than 400 volunteers logged nearly 10,300 species observations at over 800 wetland sites between Feb. 1 and Aug. 31. The species recorded most often included spring peeper, green frog and gray treefrog.

"Frogs and other amphibians can be indicators of ecosystem health, but are facing widespread declines, with many are even threatened with extinction," said Shelly Grow, AZA vice president of conservation and science. "FrogWatch USA not only fosters a connection between participants and the wildlife in their own backyards, but also gives researchers and land managers valuable information about these species, which can contribute to successful conservation."

Freely available to anyone with an interest in frogs and toads, FrogWatch USA data are hosted on FieldScope, a website that helps people explore and understand citizen science data using maps and graphs. Hosted by the Biological Sciences Study Curriculum, FrogWatch-FieldScope also allows volunteers to register new sites and observations easily and to examine their own observations alongside those of other volunteers throughout the country. People are encouraged to use the FrogWatch USA data to track frog and toad population trends over time, detect changes in species' ranges, and discover which species would typically be calling during each month of the spring and summer.

The next FrogWatch USA season begins February 1, 2018. More than 145 FrogWatch USA chapters across the nation -- many of which are hosted by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums --are available to train and support new volunteers. Join a local chapter and learn how to identify frogs and toads by their unique breeding calls, select a wetland monitoring site, and collect and submit your observations. If a nearby chapter is not available or it has been a while since you last participated, you are still welcome to join the FrogWatch USA community. Online courses for both volunteers and people interested in starting a chapter in their community are available to help.

Learn more about FrogWatch USA and how you can participate by visiting www.aza.org/frogwatch.

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