Discover local biodiversity at the Zoo’s FrogWatch USA volunteer training session

February 15, 2018

Do you ever listen to the sounds of wildlife on a warm summer night and wonder what the animals are communicating?

At Seneca Park Zoo, we understand the importance of local biodiversity and water quality, and have taken action to report it anyway we can. The Zoo is a part of a program run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) called FrogWatch USA. This program utilizes a strategy called citizen science, which is a way for individuals, groups, and families to take part in and contribute to scientific projects that are far too big for a team of scientists to complete on their own.

Adults observing wildlife near a stream
Photo by Pamela Reed Sanchez

As a member of the FrogWatch USA community, the Zoo will be working to map the location and biodiversity of local frog and toad populations by listening to mating calls in three-minute intervals. We’ll document our observations and then upload them to the national online database. FrogWatch USA is a national study with hundreds of volunteers. Having this data is crucial to documenting diseases, shifts in population or biodiversity, and overall distribution of the very important frogs and toads of the United States. Amphibians are amazing indicators of health in an ecosystem because they can “breath” through their skin, making them susceptible to pollution and other health factors. This unique adaptation is why we look for them to help us determine the health of a specific area.

Anyone is welcome to become a FrogWatch USA volunteer through the Zoo. To ensure the data is usable by scientists, a one-time training session is required of all volunteers to participate in the program. The training includes simple frog and toad call information as well as a large amount of resources to get you on your way. Once a training session is complete, you will be able to access the FrogWatch USA database online and upload observations on your own.

If this is something that interests you or your family, the Zoo is hosting a free FrogWatch USA volunteer training session on March 4th at 10 a.m. The training session is open to all ages however, the material is most beneficial for adults and children in middle school or older. Zoo admission is not required.

Marine toad
Marine Toad. Photo by Kelli O'Brien

In addition to the training and learning materials, the session will include a walk down to an area of the Zoo that we’ll be observing all summer for a “mock observation”. FrogWatch USA is a very beneficial and easy study to participate in, as well as a great local message for our Rochester amphibians. Join us in frog and toad conservation at Seneca Park Zoo!

– Dave Will, Lead Interpreter for Citizen Science