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St. Louis Zoo seeking ‘Frog Watch’ volunteers

Jump in and become a FrogWatch USA volunteer with the Saint Louis Zoo! Members of the St. Louis-area community are needed to monitor frogs and toads from their backyards, parks, fields, creeks or just about anywhere. The information gathered can lead to practical and workable ways to stop amphibian decline.  

You do not have to be an expert to be help with frog conservation. All you need is an interest in frogs and toads and a willingness to participate at the level of commitment that works for you.  

“We will train you to distinguish the croaks, peeps, and various calls of the 10 most common frog and toad species around the St. Louis area,” says Michael Dawson, Conservation Education Liaison at the Zoo, and coordinator of the St. Louis Chapter of FrogWatch USA. “Breeding calls vary greatly and are often mistaken for birds or insects. Their volume ranges from a soft musical trill to a deafening chorus.”

There are two great ways for St. Louisans to get involved in FrogWatch at different commitment levels:

  • FrogWatch-Lite is designed as an entry-level introduction to frog and toad community science. The mainly self-directed program requires participants to attend a 90-minute virtual training session with a commitment to collect photos and record frog calls then share them through the iNaturalist mobile app. Frog call observations can be made anytime throughout the breeding season, March through August, or anytime. There is no minimum or maximum number of observations required. The first FrogWatch-Lite free virtual training session is 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021. Advance reservation is required by March 4 at stlzoo.org/frogwatch.  
  • The FrogWatch USA™ Volunteer program is a community science opportunity that goes beyond the introductory level. Volunteers are required to attend a three-hour virtual training session to learn how to accurately identify calls of common frogs and toads in Missouri, collect and report scientific data, and register an observation site. Participants are asked to commit to monitoring and recording data on a regular basis at a specific site from March through August. The first FrogWatch Volunteer free virtual training session is from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, 2021. Advance reservation is required by March 12 at stlzoo.org/frogwatch.  

More training sessions may be added throughout the spring. Visit stlzoo.org/frogwatch for training dates and registration, link to the app and to hear some frog calls. For more information, contact Michael Dawson at dawson@stlzoo.org or (314) 646-4551.

Dawson also leads the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Spring Peeper Program, which is working to identify remaining populations of urban frogs and toads in the watersheds located within the Interstate 270 beltway. Causes for the decline of spring peepers, western chorus frogs and cricket frogs in these areas are currently being studied with the hope of reestablishing viable and sustainable breeding populations in the future. Data from FrogWatch St. Louis volunteers may contribute to this conservation program.

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