February is for Finding Frogs

Words by Eva Ford (Mary River Catchment Coordination Committee),

Frogs are easy to find during the warm months, especially when there’s rain about. The Mary River catchment and surrounds supports over 40 frog species. About ¼ are vulnerable, endangered or have disappeared in recent decades, mostly due to loss of habitat extent and quality as a result of swamp draining, vegetation clearing and weed invasion. There are other pressures also from feral animal predation and disease such as the Chytrid fungus that affects the skin function. Changes to our climate are adding further pressure, particularly prolonged dry periods that can drastically reduce the breeding window for frogs and increase the possibility of devastating wildfires.

Frogs rely on both aquatic and terrestrial habitats to complete their lifecycle, and their sensitivity to substances passing through their permeable skin makes them key indicators of changes in the surrounding environment.  Changes in distribution and population dynamics may be a result of obvious conditions such as droughts but can also reflect less detectable changes such as declining invertebrate populations or increased predator presence (e.g. cats eat around 44 frogs each per year (CSIRO, 2020).

The Find a Frog in February (FFF) citizen science program invites the community to contribute to our collective knowledge of frogs and their local requirements. Collecting information on the location of frogs, the habitats they use and their abundance over time helps us to determine ‘normal’ trends and to monitor for and understand changes.  The information also helps us to manage wetlands and waterways in particular, but also all components of our environment.

People of the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Gympie and Fraser Coast council areas are encouraged to get out and about to find frogs and submit their observations during February.  Over the past six years FFF frog finders have contributed to our knowledge of 33 species from 1370 locations (over 18,000 records!). Every record counts – even common species like the Green treefrog can be affected by changing environmental conditions too.

How you can help local frogs

  • Make your frog observations count – submit your photos and/or call recordings to FFF or a reputable database.
  • Keep some areas ‘messy’ – logs and branches, leaf litter, rock piles, tall grass (a ‘high-rise’ structure provides homes for more beings than a single story dwelling).
  • Provide water – ponds, dams, swamps, low areas that fill when it rains, creeks – all with a variety of vegetation, structures and even some bare areas.
  • Don’t move eggs, tadpoles or frogs about – this increases the risk of disease spread.
  • Keep pollutants out of the environment – chemicals travel easily in water that flows across the land, along drains and through the soil profile. Soap is a frog’s enemy!
  • Promote the protection of waterways and water quality in your area.
  • Consider protecting and reinstating wetlands (billabongs/swamps) that are grazed and/or have been drained or modified.
  • Keep your cats indoors at night as they hunt frogs and other wildlife.
  • Know the difference between Cane toads and frog look-alikes.

Send us your observations

  • You’ll find the old-fashioned but comprehensive FFF record sheet on our website https://mrccc.org.au/frog-in-february/ – complete and send in for identification, verification and entry to the Queensland WildNet database. You’ll find links to all things ‘froggy’ there too. Watch our website for workshops in your area to help you increase your frog-finding skills.
  • Use the iNaturalist phone app to submit records – join the app, then the ‘Find a Frog in February’ Project and submit your photos and recordings of calling frogs.
  • Use the FrogID app and join the Find a Frog in February group to submit your call recordings.

Find a Frog in February is proudly supported by the Sunshine Coast Council, Noosa Shire Council, Gympie Regional Council and the Fraser Coast Council, and delivered by the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee.

Contact for more information: findafrog@mrccc.org.au or phone (07) 5482 4766

We look forward to hearing from you! Happy frogging from the Find a Frog in February Team.

Frog workshop and night survey program (contact the MRCCC for more information (07) 5482 4766)

Tewantin 1st Feb  2023 Thursday
Maleny 3rd Feb 2023 Friday
Peregian 8th Feb 2023 Wednesday
Maryborough 17th Feb 2023 Friday
Conondale 21st Feb 2023 Tuesday

The date for our annual Find a Frog in February info session and survey for the Noosa Landcare Linkup will be release very soon.

Photo: Ornate burrowing frog (by Sarah Grimish)