published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

When frogs get busy, citizen scientists will be listening

A green tree frog, left, prepares to crawl over a barking tree frog inside a display at the Tennessee Aquarium's River Journey building.
A green tree frog, left, prepares to crawl over a barking tree frog inside a display at the Tennessee Aquarium's River Journey building.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A free session offered the first and last Fridays in March will give area residents a reason to eavesdrop on the breeding calls of frogs and toads.

Participants in the citizen science program, FrogWatch USA, can attend either of two training sessions, scheduled 6-8 p.m. March 1 and March 29, at Chattanooga Zoo, 301 N. Holtzclaw Ave.

They will learn to identify local frog and toad species by call and report their findings online to the national FrogWatch Association. The data then will be used toward large-scale amphibian conservation efforts.

Rick Jackson, director of ectotherms and exhibits of the zoo, says FrogWatch is a fun activity for families and vitally important in helping protect the world's amphibians.

"Amphibian populations are in drastic decline right now due to pollution, pesticides and the chytrid fungus, originally introduced to amphibians by humans. In fact, not since the dinosaurs have we faced such a large possible extinction of species," he says.

The data collected will help scientists survey current frog populations to determine the best remedy for their rapid decline.

Space for each training session is limited. Those interested should contact Rick Jackson by email, jackson_r@chattzoo.org.

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