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Countdown to One Million Frogs!

Australian Museum 6 mins read

Countdown to One Million Frogs!

Australians asked to help capture croaks this FrogID Week: 3 – 12 November

Can you help find a Growling Grass Frog, a Screaming Frog or a Tusked Frog?

Or how about a Green Stream Frog, a Peppered Tree Frog, or a Giant Burrowing Frog?

 

Sydney, Saturday, 4 November, 2023: It's FrogID Week and the Australian Museum (AM) is calling on all Australians to help reach 1 million frog calls! 965,000 frogs have been recorded by everyday people across the country. Now the team hopes to reach a million by the end of the year – a welcome Christmas present for Australia’s 259 native species!

FrogID is the only project of its kind in the world. It was the brainchild of Australian scientist Dr Jodi Rowley, and Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, who founded the initiative in 2017. Dr Rowley is Curator of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Biology at the Australian Museum and UNSW. FrogID quickly became a core part of the AM’s Citizen Science Centre which has set an international standard. Dr Rowley’s charismatic authority and unwavering commitment to saving frogs has seen her in demand as a public speaker and frequent media guest, helping FrogID become a flagship program for the AM.

In only six years FrogID has become a multi award-winning conservation initiative that’s yielded over 20 scientific papers, helped introduced 5 new frog species to science, and even inspired an ARIA-nominated album. It has also provided vital data to help shape environmental policy, including how the Black Summer Fires of 2019-20 impacted frog populations, and how threatened the Davies Tree Frog and Sphagnum Frog have become.

Dr Rowley's simple concept of enlisting everyday people to help find, record and save frogs has won supporters ranging from international science luminaries to Australian school kids.

NSW Minister for Arts, Music, Night-time Economy, Jobs and Tourism, the Hon John Graham, said, “FrogID shows Australians at their best - coming together to help save one of our most threatened native animals. Dr Rowley has inspired so many people to care about frogs. The NSW Government is proud to have supported FrogID from its inception as a tech innovation, through to the incredible community outreach. It’s a true Australian success story.”

How? A sophisticated but simple-to-use smart phone app makes it easy for everyday people (citizen scientists) to contribute to conservation. They find and record frog calls on the app, which sends these directly to the Australian Museum scientists who identify each frog species calling. The in-built GPS makes it easy to identify exactly where each frog is from.

The Australian Museum is working with tech partners to enhance FrogID’s platform even further through the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI).

“AI has the capacity to be a huge benefit to FrogID by taking on some of the workload of processing the recordings submitted by our FrogID users through the App.” said Paul Flemons, Head of the Australian Museum’s Centre for Citizen Science. “We’re currently training AI to identify frogs from the submitted recordings.   It’s very exciting working with technology that’s evolving at such a pace. We are hoping to use it to help reduce the costs of the project and increase the output."

“But of course, AI can’t go out and record frogs in the countryside. That’s irreplaceable,” he said.

Dr Rowley said "Together with our citizen scientists we’ve helped identify 5 frog species new to science, some with amazing calls like the Western Laughing Frog, the Screaming Tree Frog, the Slender Bleating Frog, the Spalding Rocket Frog and the Otway Smooth Frog.”

FrogID has also discovered some amazing new facts about frogs since it began in 2017 including:

  • that some frogs have accents
  • some breed for longer in cities than in the country
  • the Striped Marsh Frog is our most urban tolerant species.
  • around 40% of Australian frogs live near farm dams.
  • and that the Tusked Frog – previously feared extinct from the New England Tablelands of NSW – still persists near Tenterfield.

“We’ve mapped frogs across much of the country” said Dr Rowley, "but we are still keen to have help gathering calls particularly from The Kimberley across to the Top End; from Sydney down to the South Coast; the far southwestern point of WA, and remote parts of South Australia to name a few.”

 “We’re still looking for the missing Peppered Tree Frog (on the New England Tablelands of NSW) and a rare sub-species of the Giant Burrowing Frog (on the South Coast) too.”

“Please join us this FrogID Week for an extra push! It’s so wonderful to have people across Australia be part of the mission to help better understand and conserve frogs. With one in five frog species in Australia threatened with extinction, they need us and by working together we’re already changing their fate!”

You only need 20 seconds and a smart phone to make your mark on science and contribute to frog conservation.”

Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum said: “It’s easy to forget what an ambitious undertaking FrogID was and still is. Jodi and I got together and brainstormed how we could use smartphone technology to record frog calls. It was uncharted territory, but we are all delighted by the wonderful way FrogID has been embraced right across Australia,” McKay said.

Professor Kris Helgen, Chief Scientist, Australian said: “We’re so proud of what Dr Rowley and her team have achieved with FrogID. Everyday Australians, together with the Australian Museum scientists, have gathered FrogID data that now covers 36% of the entire nation. This is an extraordinary outcome. Every recording helps and it’s a powerful way to get families and kids engaged with conservation efforts.  I encourage everyone to download FrogID and join in. Please help Australia reach the one million frog record milestone - every call counts."

 

Participants in FrogID Week 2023 will be in the running to win the Top Frogger Award! Submit the most verified frog submissions during FrogID Week (03-12 November) and win a FrogID prize pack valued at $235. Details at www.frogid.net.au

The FrogID app is free and can be downloaded from the Australian Museum website here: www.frogid.net.au

 

Here is a simple “How to Use FrogID Video” on YouTube.

Editors note: Interviews are available with FrogID team members, including Lead Scientist, Dr Jodi Rowley.

Photos, frog calls, background information:  here 

 

 

Media contacts:

Claire Vince // 0468 726 910 // claire.vince@australian.museum / Imogen Corlette // 0410 520 776 // imogen.corlette@australian.museum

About FrogID

FrogID is led by Dr Jodi Rowley together with a team of dedicated scientists at the Australian Museum. The program received funding from the Australian Government under the Citizen Science Grants element of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program from 2017 – 2020. The NSW Government has supported FrogID in 2022-23. The NSW Government Biodiversity Conservation Trust is Supporting Partner of FrogID  2022-24. The Australian Museum leads FrogID in partnership with natural science museums in NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC and WA.

About the Australian Museum’s Citizen Science Centre

The Australian Museum (AM) was founded in 1827 and is the nation’s first museum. It also plays a leading role in conserving Australia’s biodiversity through understanding the environmental impacts of climate change, potential security threats and invasive species. The Centre for Citizen Science was founded in 2015 and is led by Paul Flemons.

Current Citizen Science projects include:

DigiVol: Volunteers from all over the globe can delve into the Australian Museum collection transcribing the data, so it is discoverable online for anyone to access anywhere in the world. This project has inspired other similar projects around the world. Over 70 volunteers in the lab, and 14,000 online have been digitising Museum collections and capturing biodiversity data from around the world. http://australianmuseum.net.au/digivol

Xmas Beetles: Discover the wonderful diversity of Australia's most famous beetles with our identification guide. Browse the comprehensive catalogue of Christmas beetles, including photos, maps and more. Collect the beetles you find and identify by adding them to digital collection and learn more about beetle anatomy and taxonomy with our illustrated glossaries. https://australian.museum/visit/mobile-apps/

Australian Fisheries Project: The Australasian Fishes project allows you to upload, identify and comment on observations of Australian and New Zealand fishes. It’s a growing image library that can be used to identify fishes, map their distribution, and investigate changes. https://australian.museum/get-involved/citizen-science/fishes/


Key Facts:

It's FrogID Week and the Australian Museum is calling on all Australians to help reach 1 million frog calls!

965,000 frogs have been recorded by everyday people across the country. 

FrogID is the only project of its kind in the world

In only six years FrogID has become a multi award-winning conservation initiative that’s yielded over 20 scientific papers, helped introduced 5 new frog species to science, and even inspired an ARIA-nominated album

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