Mobile phone users across the New England and Northern Tablelands region are invited to join a nationwide effort by the Australian Museum (AM) to identify and count the country’s native frog species.
AM’s Curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology, Dr Jodi Rowley, is familiar with the region through her search for the Peppered Tree Frog around the Glen Innes area. She said many frogs species are under threat.
“The loss of frogs is likely to have huge pest management implications for our agricultural production and well being, as they help control insect populations,” she said.
“Frogs consume an enormous number of invertebrates including pests like locusts and moths [that lay caterpillar eggs]; and tadpoles keep algae down, not just mosquitoes.”
Dr Rowley is keen for rural property holders as well as townspeople to join the survey that involves downloading a free mobile phone app called FrogID. The app is used to record and upload frog calls for identification by scientists.
Each frog species has a unique call which is the most accurate way to identify them.
For those working in places without mobile phone reception, Dr Rowley recommends downloading the compete app so that it doesn’t require an internet connection to operate in the field.
“The University of New England did a good frog survey in the 1970s,” she said. That was before the global decline in frog species began making the data useful for assessing changes in frog populations today.
Among regional species of particular interest are the tiny Peppered Tree Frog – which has mottled skin and once inhabited the eastern flowing rivers of the Tablelands between Glen Innes and Armidale; the Yellow-Spotted Tree Frog – described as “quite a big frog with a loud call”, that inhabited chains of ponds, dams or pools in the region; and the Booroolong Frog – once the most common frog living in Northern Tableland streams but which now live only in the southern area near Tamworth. The Peppered and Yellow-Spotted species have not been sighted since the 1970s.