Frogs and toads are in the Class Amphibia, and in the order “Anura”. The anuran order consists of more than 3450 species of frogs and toads. Frogs and toads are divided into 21 families including the best know frog family, Ranidae, consisting of some of our most familiar North American frogs (bullfrogs, wood frogs, green frogs, northern leopard frogs). Amphibians are important consumers in aquatic and terrestrial systems and can act as an important trophic link (Whiles et al. 2006). The larval stages of most amphibians are important because they feed on algae and detritus, and the insectivorous adult stages of many species are important in controlling invertebrate prey populations (Whiles et al. 2006). Amphibian populations have shown declines on a global scale (Houlahan et al. 2000). Several factors have been identified as contributing to declines including habitat destruction/modification, increasing levels of pollutants such as insecticides, fugicides, herbicides and acid rain, and the introduction of diseases and non-native predators (Hickman et al. 1998).
What can you do to help?
One thing that you can do at home to help is to only put “rain down the drain” (See the Bay Area Restoration Council’s Yellow Fish Road Program). Household hazardous chemicals that are emptied directly into storm drains either flow directly to streams or are sent to waster water treatment plants. Wastewater treatment plants do not yet have the technology to filter out many household wastes including pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals and other hazardous chemicals, which then flow directly into our freshwater supply and wildlife habitat. Proper disposal of these chemicals (e.g. old prescriptions should be returned to a pharmacy for proper disposal) is essential to ensure we have sufficient freshwater and suitable habitat for our native amphibians.
Amphibian surveys will be conducted by working with the Marsh Monitoring Program and using their already developed protocols. Amphibian surveys require arranging your own travel to a wetland assigned by the Coordinator, but we will try to make them convenient for the participant. Monitoring amphibians requires attending the annual spring workshop for training. Each survey is 3 min in length and there may be up to 8 surveys per wetland (but most likely 1-2). Each survey location should be visited 3 times per year (1st survey: April 15-30; 2nd survey: May 15-30; 3rd survey: June 15-30). Surveys start at a half an hour after sunset and must be finished before midnight. You will need to learn, or be able to identify 13 frog/toad calls of the region.