Where’s Wilcoxii? A Citizen Science Adventure

An account of a herping night for FrogID week

A plethora of Australian frogs. Design above available on lots of products in my Redbubble store. Photos by Author

Ever been herping?

No, it’s nothing to do with twerking or any other type of dance. It’s a term used to describe going out and searching for reptiles or amphibians, derived from herpetology. Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians.

Last night, I went herping for the second time. This time it was part of an event, timed to coincide witb FrogID Week, run by the administrator of the Queensland Frogs Facebook page who is also a member of the Queensland Frog Society and has extensive experience finding and caring for frogs. About 8 of us headed out into some locations on the beautiful Tamborine Mountain to explore and hopefully find some frogs!

Herping is full of wonder moments and a great opportunity to learn about species that are difficult to find without experience.

To avoid unwittingly transferring viruses and harmful fungi from one location to another we had to sterilise our gumboots between locations and before going home. Chytrid fungus is currently a huge threat to Australia’s frog population. Photo by Author.

FrogID Week

In Australia we have a fantastic app called FrogID which allows the user to record frog calls and have them identified by the team at the Australian Museum. It’s a great little app which also features frog calls to help us learn how to identify them ourselves. Well worth a look!

Each year in November, Australians are encouraged to record as many calls as they can during FrogID week. All the data collected contributes to studies of frogs.

Frogs are “indicator species” which means that they are some of the first organisms to perish or thrive in a changing environment. Data on their locations and prevalence is extremely valuable to scientific studies of the environment.

What did we find?

We spotted six species and heard seven. Sadly I left my camera battery at home so I could only get phone photos.

Here’s what we found:

Eastern Sedge Frog or Litoria fallax. Photo by Author

Sedgies, as they are affectionately known are small, up to 3cm (just over an inch) in length. They always look grumpy and hang out on lily pads and sedges.

Whirring Tree Frog or Litoria revelata Photo by Author

Whirring Tree Frogs are also small, only slightly bigger than a Sedgie. This was a first for me. I’ve heard them a lot but never seen one in person before.

Cascade Stream Frog or Litoria pearsoniana Photo by Author

The Cascade Stream Frog lives in running streams or cascades. I had never seen one of these before either. We saw a few, all were slightly different in colour as they adapt readily to the environment. You can see that this one is very similar to the moss around him.

Sandpaper Frog or Lechriodus fletcheri Photo by Author

Even our guide was excited by this one. Rarely seen, the Sandpaper Frog excels at camouflage, blending into the environment so that you might miss the species even when you’re looking straight at them!

Eastern Stony Creek Frog or Litoria wilcoxii Photo by Author

There’s Wilcoxii!

The Eastern Stony Creek Frog is a handsome species and yet another that I had never seen before. Like most frogs they are excellent at disappearing into their surroundings. These ones grow up to 7cm (3 inches) in length.

Final Thoughts

Citizen Science is a great way to connect with nature while contributing to conservation.

It’s incredibly satisfying to know that the data you are capturing is being used to build our knowledge of the natural world and potentially contribute to solutions for our environmental problems.

Initiatives like FrogID Week and the outings organised by the Queensland Frogs Facebook page directly contribute to creating more opportunities for connection with nature.

I feel very grateful to have these experiences and I can’t wait to go herping again!

This story was previously published by the same author in Tea with Mother Nature.

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