Volunteers track frog calls
Are you looking for a fresh and exciting activity to do with your family and friends? Frog hunting may be just what you're looking for.
In 1996 the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) started accepting volunteers to help with frog and toad calling surveys. This program is set up to help track the health of Minnesota's 14 species of frogs.
These surveys help the DNR identify areas in which species are contracting or expanding. This also helps target species that may be harmful to the habitat.
Many species indicate the quality of their habitats and provide useful information on the state's wetlands.
The first step in the volunteer process is to e-mail or call Heidi Cyr, frog and toad survey volunteer coordinator, with routes in which you are interested.
This could include the area where you live or possibly an area in which relatives live. If you own a cabin anywhere within the state, that is also an option for possible routes.
If you qualify as a volunteer, you will then go to a website to take a quiz on frog and toad calls. You may take the quiz as many times as needed to pass.
New volunteers are given a kit that includes a CD containing calls of Minnesota's frog and toad species, a map of a pre-defined route in the area of your choice, a poster of the state's frog and toad species, and directions of how to run the route. A vehicle is needed to travel between each stop.
Surveyors will conduct nighttime "listening surveys" on three different evenings between April and July; this is done to capture seasonal variation in calling frog species.
A typical route will consist of 10 stops, each stop a mile apart. The volunteers will listen for four to five minutes at each stop. They will be listening for the different calls of frogs and toads in that particular area.
The calls will be ranked on a scale of one to three; one being sporadic calls with time to count between each call and three being a full chorus of continuous calls. All of the data will be recorded on datasheets provided in the volunteer kit.
"It's not as hard as it might seem at first," said Cyr. Volunteers are always needed.
The 14 frog and toad species known to Minnesota are categorized into three families: toads, tree frogs and true frogs. All the species within each family share similar features, but each specific species has its own unique survival strategy, breeding call and environmental niche.
True frog family: bull frog, green frog, mink frog, northern leopard frog, pickerel frog and wood frog.
Tree frog family: cope's gray tree frog, gray tree frog, Northern cricket frog, spring peeper and western chorus/boreal chorus frog.
Toad family: American toad, Canadian toad, Great plains toad.