Frog survey success: amazing effort by citizen scientists

Over the past year, Living Links has been supporting Melbourne Water to boost citizen science monitoring of frogs through their Frog Census program. And it’s been a huge success!

Within a 5.5km section of the Dandenong Creek between Bayswater and Vermont South, 80 Frog Census reports were submitted over the past 20 years. However, in 2017-18, a whopping 197 new reports were submitted! The map below shows the location of these new records.

This massive increase in records is largely thanks to the First Friends of Dandenong Creek, who have taken up the frog monitoring with great enthusiasm. Melbourne Water provided some initial training, but the group is now very independent in being able to carry out their own surveys. Frog Census Coordinator James Frazer also noted that the accuracy of reports submitted by the group have improved noticeably (citizen scientists are able to provide their own thoughts on identification at the time of recording, but all recordings are verified by frog experts).

The new records are providing invaluable data to better understand local frog populations, including identification of frog hotspots, building our understanding of key habitats, and better predicting which species will recolonise areas that are being restored. This is particularly important given the huge amount of environmental work being carried out along this section of the creek, including daylighting of an 800m section of the creek, creation of new billabongs, and revegetation of the creek corridor.

Some key results were:

  • A total of seven frog species were detected: Spotted Marsh Frog, Eastern Common Froglet, Striped Marsh Frog, Southern Brown Tree Frog, Eastern Banjo Frog, Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog, and Victorian Smooth Froglet.
  • The Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog, Litoria fallax, is an introduced species that is frequently transported from QLD in boxes of bananas. These are the first records of this species for the area.
  • The Victorian Smooth Froglet, Geocrinia Victoriana, records are significant as the species has not been recorded in the area since 2012.

Next year we will be looking to extend the frog surveys further downstream along the Dandenong Creek. Click here to download the Frog Census app and start monitoring frogs in your area. A results and celebration night is being planned for the evening of 26th September, at which all will be welcome. Stay tuned for details.

Photo: Victorian Smooth Froglet by Peter Robertson, supplied by Melbourne Water.