FrogID app to save Australia's frogs

Downpipe dweller: The green tree frog can grow up to 11 centimetres in length and is common in NSW and other states in Australia. Picture: Bradshaw/Australian Museum
Downpipe dweller: The green tree frog can grow up to 11 centimetres in length and is common in NSW and other states in Australia. Picture: Bradshaw/Australian Museum

Australia’s first national frog count is underway and everyone can join in to help save one of the most threatened groups of animals on earth.

The Australian Museum’s FrogID is a citizen science project that uses mobile phone technology and ‘audio DNA’ to discover where frogs are at risk and how to conserve them and our waterways.

The free FrogID app, developed in partnership with IBM, identifies frog species by the sounds they make – from croaks and chirps, to whistles and barks. Up to 1 million Australians are expected to download the app and head to parks, creeks, dams or wetlands to listen for frog calls.

Recording and uploading these calls will map frog species across Australia and reveal where they are at risk from habitat loss, disease, climate change and urbanisation. You might even discover a new frog species!

Watch video of frogID explained:

Australian Museum director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, said FrogID is a national citizen science rescue mission that everyone can take part in.

“The power to save Australia’s frogs is now in the palm of your hand, whether you’re a family in your garden or on a bushwalk, at school or a grey nomad. Everyone can download the free FrogID app to help save these vulnerable species – the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ of climate change,” Ms McKay said.

One of Australia’s leading frog experts, Dr Jodi Rowley, Australian Museum curator of amphibian and reptile conservation biology, said FrogID will help conserve our 240 native frog species and their habitats.

“Frogs are a tipping point in the environment. The loss of frogs is also likely to have huge pest management implications for our agricultural production and wellbeing, as they help control insect populations, such as mosquitoes. If they disappear, entire ecosystems may be at risk,” Dr Rowley said.

Listen to the common Eastern froglet:

Why frogs count

Australia has 240 known species of native frogs, many of which are under threat. Hundreds of frog species have already disappeared worldwide and many more are on the edge of extinction.

Sir David Attenborough has described amphibians as “the lifeblood of many environments”. As one of the first animal species to feel the impact of environmental changes, declining frog populations are a “warning call” about the impacts of climate change and pollution on Australia’s waterways, wildlife and ecosystems.

Frogs play a critical role in the management of insect pests. Frog-skin secretions are also being explored in drugs to fight infection, release insulin, regulate the heart and cure diseases, such as cancer.

Listen to the Peron’s tree frog:

The FrogID app

Each frog species has a unique call, which is the most accurate way to identify different frog species. Recording and uploading frog calls, via the FrogID app, will identify different frog species, along with time and location data, using GPS technology. A team of frog experts will verify calls submitted by the public. This data will help map frog populations across Australia and identify areas and species under threat.

It may not be easy being green, as Kermit the Frog said, but it is easy to help save our frogs by downloading the free FrogID app. Find out more at www.frogid.net.au.

Listen to the Eastern sign-bearing froglet: