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Watching our environment - Frogwatch

27 June 2008

Waterwatch and Frogwatch Coordinator Dr Beth Mantle attended our latest committee meeting to brief us on these two important environmental monitoring programs.

What is Frogwatch?
Frogwatch is a community frog monitoring program that aims to involve large numbers of volunteers of all ages to undertake frog monitoring and protect frog habitats.
In National Water Week, the 3rd week of October each year, over 200 Frogwatch participants monitor frog populations at approximately 140 sites around the ACT and Region. Frogwatch participants attend a training seminar where they learn all about the fascinating world of frogs, how to monitor them, and ways to help protect them and their habitats. Frogwatch monitoring can be done all year round, but the focus is on National Water Week in October each year. This is when the majority of ACT frog species tend to be actively calling and mating.
Why monitor frogs?
Frog species are widely recognised as indicators of environmental health and their presence can indicate good water quality and the availability of high quality habitat. Conversely, the absence or decline of frog populations can indicate unhealthy or degraded catchments.
They are useful as a monitoring focus for a number of reasons:

• Frogs are sensitive to high concentrations of pollutants such as pesticides, detergents and industrial chemicals.
• Their eggs are 'naked' (i.e. they do not have a shell), and adult frogs have permeable skin, which they 'drink' and breathe through.
• This means that any toxic substances polluting a waterway will easily penetrate into the frogs' system.
• As frogs require water to breed, we can assume that a waterway inhabited by frogs is relatively free of toxic pollutants.
• Each species has a distinctive mating call that is relatively easy to learn and recognise. That way, we can monitor frogs in a very non-invasive way, without disturbing them too much.
Frogwatch Census Information
The Frogwatch program generates significant information about the presence and approximate abundance of frog populations in the ACT and Region, and includes observations about habitat, vegetation and weather conditions.
The Frogwatch monitoring strategy has been developed in collaboration with Environment ACT's Wildlife Research and Monitoring Unit, and has been designed to compliment their existing professional monitoring program. All Frogwatch data is verified by the Frogwatch Coordinator using audio recordings, and any unusual, rare or difficult identifications are also verified by staff from Environment ACT.
The data that we generate is used by a number of groups including:

• Community and catchment groups
• Environment ACT Wildlife Research and Monitoring Unit
• Teachers and Students
To find out more or get involved, contact the ACT Frogwatch Coordinator* or call (02) 6278 3309.

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