In many parts of the country, frogs and toads have begun their hibernation, and we humans, too, are hibernating for the winter—at least in parts of the northern hemisphere. This is a good time, however, to hone your frog listening skills and to think about volunteering as a frog listener for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, (NAAMP) a nationwide program of the U.S. Geological Survey that studies the distribution and relative abundance of amphibians in North America. The data collected from frog listeners across the country is analyzed for patterns of amphibian stability or decline on local, regional, and national levels.
Several states are participating in this study. Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, for example, has participated in NAAMP, since 2008. In Georgia as elsewhere, frogs serve as indicators of environmental change: the data collected by volunteers helps monitor habitat change or loss of wetlands.
In Georgia, volunteers are asked to drive a predetermined route (or routes), stopping for five minutes to listen for and report frog species and their relative abundance at 10 established wetland stops. They visit these local listening routes three times a year.
Frog listening not only helps frogs, it helps the participants, too. Listening to the frog calls, according to Sarah Barlow, a NAAMP participant, is not only relaxing and enjoyable, it also builds “a greater appreciation of being in the woods.” (Quoted in an online article Frog Listener Volunteers Answer Call To Help Survey Frogs Across Georgia.)
Before becoming a frog listener, you must first take the U.S. Geological Survey quiz and be able to idenfity 65 percent of the frogs in your state. Even if you don’t want to become a frog listener, it’s fun to take the quiz to test your knowledge of the calls of frogs in your state.
So in addition to holiday music, why not plan to listen to some other choruses—frog choruses—in preparation for spring. If you live in Georgia, you don’t have to wait that long. The first listening window next year opens January 15.
Here’s one frog from Georgia with a distinctive call, the Green Frog (Rana clamitans)