An annual frog-watching event in Canberra has been extended to take place over one month instead of a week due to climate change.
FrogWatch ACT and region conducts a frog census every year in October. It measures the health of frogs and wetlands in Canberra.
It is calling on volunteers to take part in the citizen science project.
FrogWatch ACT and region coordinator Anke Maria Hoefer said the program helped to protect frog species.
“Frogs are the most threatened species group in the world and their future has been compared to the extinction of dinosaurs,” she said.
“This grassroots program helps us understand and protect frog species and it would not exist without citizen science.”
The census used to run for one week, but climate change has impacted frog breeding and means the census has been forced to run over the entire month of October, not just one week.
“The conditions are much less predictable so we don’t have the certainty that frogs will call,” Ms Hoefer said.
Ms Hoefer said extending the census to run over a whole month meant volunteers were able to take advantage of favourable conditions.
“Volunteers have a much better chance to simply pick and choose the best night when there are no winds, it’s a bit more mild and the perfect storm would be after some rain,” she said.
“The whole month gives our volunteers more opportunities to find that perfect storm and go out under these preferential conditions.”
Each year the program attracts up to 300 volunteers but more were needed.
There is training night at the end of September at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands where volunteers are taught to distinguish frog species by their calls. They then head out to the wetlands to practice.
When volunteers are trained they can then book a site they will monitor. There are about 250 sites across the ACT and the surrounding region, Ms Hoefer said.
“When you are a newly fledged frog-watcher you can adopt a site. We have a booking sheet with all the sites we have. You can put your name against one site or as many as you want,” she said.
Volunteers have to visit their chosen sites at least twice over the month. The census takes place at night and Ms Hoefer said volunteers had to go at night, in the first three hours of darkness.
“When volunteers go out to their chosen site and they describe habitat features, they measure air and water temperature, describe the weather pattern and take a three minute sound recording,” she said.
FrogWatch receives funding from the ACT government and the findings from the census are reported to the territory government as part of the annual Waterwatch Catchment Health Indicator report. Ms Hoefer said policy outcomes for the frog population had changed due to the research from the program.