Monday, January 31, 2011

Hop to the Call - FrogWatch at Roger Williams Park Zoo

This came across the news desk this morning, and I'd like to share it with you. No matter what your opinion is about the validity of "global warming," the bottom line is we are witnessing dramatic changes in weather and environment, and alarming rate of disruption or disappearance of important insects, birds, fish, and - as in this story - frogs! Here's one way for your child and you to be more informed, more involved, and have a fun learning experience. - Ms. Lucie

Providence, RI – Roger Williams Park Zoo is seeking volunteer “citizen scientists” to participate in the fourth season of its state-wide FrogWatch USA program. Program volunteers attend a training that discusses the importance of amphibians in the environment, how to tell the frog species apart by their calls and how monitoring our local population helps to protect them. Volunteers commit to monitoring a local amphibian habitat (such as a pond or lake) and collecting data on what they hear, approximately once a week for about 15 minutes.

Amphibian species are disappearing at an alarming rate across the globe due to a number of factors such as habitat loss, pollution, and disease. This has led to what many conservationists call a global amphibian crisis, with one third to one half of all amphibian species facing possible extinction.

Though there don’t appear to be any immediate threats to the species found locally in New England, the monitoring and data collected through the FrogWatch program will help conservationists to keep tabs on these populations and react to any decline much more quickly.

“Amphibians act as an important indicator species for healthy environments and are a vital part of the food chain, making up the diet of many other species; some that rely on amphibians as a sole source of food,” said Lou Perrotti, Director of Conservation Programs at the Zoo.

“Without amphibians, insect populations could grow out of control and potentially spread disease that could threaten human populations and agriculture. The loss of the entire class of amphibians would have a catastrophic effect on the ecosystem. FrogWatch is an easy, enjoyable way for people who have an interest in amphibians and the environment to help.”

The Zoo is holding volunteer training sessions for the program on February 27 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., March 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and April 16 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. To attend a training session and become a FrogWatch USA volunteer, contact Gerry Dichiara, at or 401-785-3510 x358.

Data collected in Rhode Island will be added to a national FrogWatch USA database, and will also be shared with the Rhode Island Natural History Survey. In 2010 Roger Williams Park Zoo trained over 89 volunteers who monitored 70 sites across all 5 counties in Rhode Island.

For more information about the FrogWatch USA program at Roger Williams Park Zoo, and about the global amphibian crisis, visit the Zoo’s website,, and click on “conservation.”


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