Hop to the Call of Conservation
Roger Williams Park Zoo is seeking volunteer “citizen scientists” to participate in the fifth season of its state-wide FrogWatch USA program. Program participants attend a training that discusses the importance of amphibians in the environment, how to tell the frog species apart by their calls and how monitoring our local population helps to protect them. Citizen scientists commit to monitoring a local amphibian habitat (such as a pond or lake) and collecting data on what they hear, approximately once a week for about 15 minutes.
Amphibian species are disappearing at an alarming rate across the globe due to a number of factors such as habitat loss, pollution, and disease. This has led to what many conservationists call a global amphibian crisis, with one third to one half of all amphibian species facing possible extinction.
Though there don’t appear to be any immediate threats to the species found locally in New England, the monitoring and data collected through the FrogWatch program will help conservationists to keep tabs on these populations and react to any decline much more quickly.
“Amphibians act as an important indicator species for healthy environments and are a vital part of the food chain, making up the diet of many other species; some that rely on amphibians as a sole source of food,” said Lou Perrotti, Director of Conservation Programs at the Zoo.
“Without amphibians, insect populations could grow out of control and potentially spread disease that could threaten human populations and agriculture. The loss of the entire class of amphibians would have a catastrophic effect on the ecosystem. FrogWatch is an easy, enjoyable way for people who have an interest in amphibians and the environment to help.”
The Zoo is holding training sessions for the 2013 program on March 16 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., March 24 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and April 2 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. To help defray the cost of running this important project, a $10 materials fee will be charged per participating household to cover training materials. Registration can be done online at www.rwpzoo.org/352/be-frogwatcher.