James Frazer, Coordinator, Melbourne Water Frog Census talks about the community engagement and citizen science-based frog monitoring program that has run since 2001. Learn how volunteer-collected frog data have been used to inform waterway planning and monitor the impact of on-ground interventions such as habitat creation and environmental watering. James has a background in natural resource management, threatened species recovery programs, and community engagement.
On a warm night in Melbourne’s suburbs, many people of a froggy persuasion met in the upstairs room of Public House, Richmond. Due to successful RSVPing by attendees, all in the room took a seat for the November 2018 Frogs Victoria event. We promised a double bill of speakers engaged in the professional frog world, by which I mean the frog-related professions, not the world of gainfully employed frogs.
Melbourne Water Frog Census
First up was James Frazer, co-ordinator of Melbourne Water’s Frog census. James’s introduction was accompanied by some delightful background musical bangers accidentally provided by the venue, but soon after Mr. Frazer began, we were able to hear him a lot better as he treated us to froggy-data tales from the Melbourne area.
James explained to us why Melbourne Water is interested in frogs. Happily, the answer is at least in part because Melbournians are interested in frogs. Additionally, frogs are of course excellent indicators of waterway health, in which Melbourne Water is very interested. Frogs are, as we know excellent ambassadors for engagement and environmental custodianship, which James uses to spread the message that the future of amphibians is currently looking dire, but the people of Victoria can help.
The 2016 launch of the Frog Census app created, or at least measured, a spike in the interest of human residents in their amphibian neighbours. James used a convoluted flow chart to demonstrate with some impact, the previous methods of collecting Frog Census data – paper reports that required writing (sometimes with a pen!), scanning and emailing back to the office. Thankfully those methods are long gone and the replacement app is user-friendly and fun, with pictures, IDs and electronic buttons.
Every Frog Census report is used to influence management and strategy. I say all… apparently not every report is perfect and some of James’s work seems to be somewhat like that of a detective – finding out what the report is supposed to be. But once the reports are verified a good picture of Melbourne’s frogs is created. At least some of this goes towards “big data” and is available to people outside of Frog Census for others to use. The data can inform wetland monitoring, management and creation.
The Frog Census also provides curriculum tools, a frog pond guide, monitoring and ID guides. James works closely with other conservation groups in strategic partnerships to further the frog message and support like-minded individuals and groups. The Frog Census is a great way for anybody to get involved in frog science and conservation.
For the frogs, Lynette Plenderleith Chair, Frogs Victoria.
P.S. If you’re hungry for more, check out:
Melbourne Water Frog Census: https://www.melbournewater.com.au/frogcensus