Save Land and Save Frogs with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

by Sim Barrow

It is just after sunset as I make my way through the dense grass and shallow pools at Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The thunderstorms from earlier in the day have subsided, and the horizon glows with the remaining light of the day.  With clipboard and pencil in hand, I stop at the edge of an embankment and wait. After a few minutes, the relative quiet is interrupted by a chorus of leopard frogs, American toads and spring peepers.  These are the sounds that drew me to the site, and are the reason for my evening visit to the Preserve.

Frog and toad activity at Wilson Springs Preserve is no small matter for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. Protecting wildlife habitat is one of our highest priorities in our work to conserve the natural landscapes of our region.  Whether through conservation easements or by receiving land as a donation, we ensure that those lands will continue to serve as a place for wildlife forever, even as the human population grows.

Of course, seeing the land preserved is just the beginning. With each conserved property we commit to the ongoing stewardship of the land, which includes biomonitoring, or the tracking of native plant and animal species like frogs and toads. The information we gain from biomonitoring is used to inform land management practices like restoration activities and invasive plant removal. It also serves as an indicator of the overall health of the habitat. Because frogs and toads are such great indicator species, it makes sense for the land trust to specifically monitor for them.

For this reason, we are excited to integrate the FrogWatch USA frog monitoring program into our biomonitoring plan.  Citizen-science programs are an excellent way to engage with the community and help people enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. It is also a helpful resource for nonprofits like the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust that have limited staff capacity.  We look forward to recruiting and training new FrogWatch volunteers in 2017 to help us monitor frogs and toads on some of our properties.  It’s also a great opportunity for current volunteers to explore new areas and support local conservation efforts.

Join me and the other NWA Chapter Coordinators this February 25 from 1pm-6pm for the first FrogWatch training workshop of the year. The workshop will be held at the Historic Ozark Mountain Smokehouse (1725 Smokehouse Trail Fayetteville, AR 72701). There will be a special trip to our Wilson Springs Preserve following the workshop, where we will practice the skills taught in the training. We may even hear crawfish frogs making their characteristic “snoring” sound! Contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org to register for the training.

With your help, we can all protect habitat for frogs and toads in Northwest Arkansas. Thank you, volunteers, for your commitment to frog and toad conservation!


2016 Frog Calendar Available

2016 Arkansas Frogs and Toads Calendar

Frog CalendarThis 8½” by 11″ full-color frog calendar includes:

  • Full descriptions of 12 Arkansas species
  • Images taken by Arkansans
  • A chart of species calling times
  • Information about FrogWatch USA
  • Holidays and phases of the moon

 

 

This frog calendar is available for a $10 donation which includes shipping.

To order, go to http://www.arkansasfrogsandtoads.org/arkansas-frogs-toads-calendar


Frogs in Winter

Frogs in Winter

Have you ever wondered where frogs and toads spend the winter?

They adapt to the cold in a number of ways including freezing solid and then thawing out in the spring!  Learn all about these amazing amphibians during this Frogs in Winter free presentation by Tom Krohn, Arkansas Regional Coordinator for Frog Watch USA and North Central Arkansas Master Naturalist.

It will be presented at the following locations in January:

Saturday, January 3rd, 10:00 – 11:30 am, Fred Berry Conservation Education Center at Crooked Creek, Yellville, Arkansas.  Call (870) 449-3484 to register or email mdoran@agfc.ar.gov

Saturday, January 17th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, Hobbs State Park, Rogers, Arkansas.  No pre-registration needed


Frog Calls on SoundCloud

Now you can listen to frog and toad calls from around the country on SoundCloud

Dwarf American Toad

Click here to go to http://soundcloud.com/frogwatch-usa

 

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAAnd don’t forget to get your 2015 Arkansas Frogs and Toads Wall Calendar for $10 plus tax and shipping.

 

Click here for more calendar information

 


2015 Arkansas Frogs and Toads Calendar now available

This 11″x17″ 2015 Arkansas Frogs and Toads Calendar contains many unique features:

2015 Arkansas Frogs and Toads Calendar

  1. Arkansas frog and toad images taken by Arkansans
  2. Size, range, call, and season for each of the twelve species
  3. An interesting frog or toad fact for each month
  4. Information about Frog Watch USA
  5. An annual chart of frog and toad calling times

This full-color calendar is just $10 plus tax and shipping.  All major credit and debit cards accepted. 




Click on the button to get yours today.
(They make great presents!)

Your purchase of the 2015 Arkansas Frogs and Toads Calendar supports presentations and workshops held around Arkansas.  Thank you . . .


Save the Frogs Day – April 2014

Save the Frogs Day

L-R Kaitlyn Zamzow, Chelsea Korfel, MaryAnne Stansbury, Jeremy Chamberlain, Peggy & Tom Krohn

Save the Frogs Day – Saturday, April 26th

Peg and I spent an enjoyable afternoon at Pinnacle Mountain State Park south of Little Rock on Saturday. Jeremy Chamberlain and Chelsea Korfel brought several frogs and toads including bullfrogs, a chorus frog, green treefrogs, a dwarf American toad, a southern leopard frog, and an eastern narrow-mouthed toad.

Maryanne Stansbury, the park interpreter, was a great host for the event which drew many families.  The kids were shown how to fold a business card into a frog and then race them.

Save the Frogs Day brings public attention to the importance of amphibians, why they are in trouble, and what can be done to help them.  They can be indicators that the environment is in trouble.

Check out the website at www.savethefrogs.com


Frog Call Timing

Frog Calling Phenology (timing)

When do the frogs and toads start to call?  This frog call timing chart will help you practice before you go out to the pond to monitor.

Late Winter/Early Spring: Wood Frogs; Spring Peepers; Southern Leopard Frogs; Chorus Frogs; Pickerel Frog; Crawfish Frog

Spring: American Bullfrog; Dwarf American Toads; Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

Late Spring/Summer: Fowler’s Toad; Green Frog; All the Treefrogs

Anytime after a heavy rain: Narrow-mouthed Toads; Spadefoots


FrogWatch Field Scope Tutorials now available

Watch UTube Tutorials for FrogWatch Field Scope here:

Frog Watch Field Scope Data Entry Tutorialhttp://youtu.be/0i6gNbAUvYg

Frog Watch Field Scope Mapping Tutorialhttp://youtu.be/cVCLfuJIFyU

Frog Watch Field Scope Graphing Tutorialhttp://youtu.be/CYCT7YIje7I

Frog Watch Field Scope Calling Calendar Tutorialhttp://youtu.be/nw26kUki_us

Frog Watch Field Scope Playlist (4 videos above)http://bit.ly/1k4Rw7h 

FrogWatch Field Scope Database Tutorial

Learn how to enter your own observation data, map and graph the sites and observations from around the country. You can check out what frogs and toads have been heard in your area and when they started and stopped calling.  A unique feature allows you to view map and graphic data simultaneously on a split screen.

For more in depth knowledge about Frog Watch Field Scope, attend a Frog Watch Workshop scheduled around Arkansas.  Click here for the training schedule.


American Bullfrog

American BullfrogThis handsome fellow is Lithobates catesbianus – otherwise known as the American Bullfrog.  He is native to North America and was packaged up and sent to the Swedish biologist, Carl von Linné (1707-1778) by Mark Catesby in colonial times.  Linné established the order of taxonomy that remains in use today.  He named the new frog Rana catesbiana in Catesby’s honor.  The original binomial nomenclature name has recently been updated.

Jump forward a couple hundred years and we find that the American Bullfrog has expanded its original eastern range.  Those large juicy legs have found their way onto many a dinner plate and to meet the demand frog farms were created throughout the country.  Many of the frogs, being the mobile creatures that they are, escaped into the local habitat.  Consequently, the American Bullfrog is now found in the wild throughout America.  This is good news, bad news, but before we get into that, let’s learn a little bit more about this guy.

The American Bullfrog is an amphibian which means it lives two lives – one in water and one on land.  He starts out as an egg in a thin gelatinous egg sheet with hundreds or thousands of sibling eggs.  His mother heard the deep-voiced “Rumm rumm rrrrrumm” of his father near some large pond and answered the call.  Father may have had to wrestle with other American Bullfrogs in order to maintain his good calling spot.  Mother’s ears were tuned to father’s call and she chose the strongest that she heard.  This all happened in spring or early summer.

The eggs that survive predators hatch into tadpoles in four or five days and may spend the next year transforming into a frog through metamorphosis.  As a tadpole (also known as a pollywog) he will use his unique jaws to eat plant matter and detritus (the dead matter that collects at the bottom of the pond).  He breathes with gills and also absorbs oxygen and water through his skin.  He gets around with his tail, like a fish, so he can swim away from predators or hide on the bottom.  Nevertheless, most American Bullfrog tadpoles will never make it to frog-hood.

As an adult, the American Bullfrog is the largest North American frog.  Adults can range from about 3″ to 8″ in length from tailbone to snout.  Frogs are ectothermic animals which means they depend on the environment to maintain their body temperature.  Birds and mammals (like us) use most of their calorie intake to maintain their body heat.  On the other hand, the frog’s calories can go into new growth.  American Bullfrogs continue to grow throughout their lives for up to eight years.

Notice some of the physical characteristics of thisAmerican Bullfrog fine specimen to the right.  He has horizontal pupils that are capable of looking forward, backward, up and down.  His eardrums (tympanums) are located directly behind the eyes.  Tympanums of male frogs are larger than the eyes – females tympanums are about the same size as the eyes.  His green skin is smooth and he has no folds of skin running in parallel lines down his back (dorsolateral folds) like his cousin the green frog.  His legs are long for leaping and his back feet are webbed for swimming.  He is a light color underneath which is typical for frogs and toads.  A bird looking down on the frog in the water would see a dark green shape that blends into the color of the pond bottom.  A fish looking up at the frog would see a light colored shape that blends into the color of the sky.  The two lumps on the back are typical of an older American Bullfrog.  The males make their call with a pair of vocal sacs that extend out on both sides of their throat.

Bullfrog RacesThe good news is that American Bullfrogs play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling insects and providing food along the food chain in its three phases.  Frog legs are enjoyed by many, and are said to taste like chicken.  Kids and adults can get up close and personal with them in activities like the bullfrog races held at the annual Rayne, Louisiana Frog Festival.

The bad news is that American Bullfrogs are voracious eaters and will swallow anything that they can fit into their mouths – including other frogs.  Bullfrogs introduced to a new pond can decimate the local frog population quickly.  In Arkansas, bullfrogs are the only frogs that can be hunted.  You can catch or gig up to 18 of them a day from April to December if you have a fishing license and keep them for personal use only.  No other frogs or toads can be taken from the wild without a capture permit.

Although the American Bullfrog is not on any endangered species list, it is nevertheless susceptible to contaminated water.  Ponds that have been polluted with pesticide and herbicide runoff can do significant damage to frog and toad populations because of their permeable skins.  For example, water concentrations of the herbicide Atrazine that are far below the EPA limit for human drinking water have been shown to create significant problems in frog hormones and breeding.  (Note: Atrazine use has been banned in the European Union for a decade!)

So the American Bullfrog is the Bald Eagle of our frog community.  Learn more about him and his frog and toad cousins at the website dedicated to the little creatures Arkansas Frogs and Toads.  You will also learn to identify all the frogs and toads by their calls and can then contribute to our understanding of them through citizen science.  Become a monitor of frogs and toads through FrogWatch USA.


Latest FrogWatch Newsletter – November 2013

FrogWatch USA™, part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, has published their End of Season Newsletter.  It has an article about the new Frog Watch Field Scope database which will be used for the upcoming 2014 season.  Volunteers will now be able to enter their Site Selection information and Observation Datasheets directly into the national database without having to send copies by email or snail mail.  Check out the newsletter by clicking on the FrogWatch USA™ logo here:

AZA-FrogWatch USA Logo - For Web - Fill

FrogWatch USA End of Season Newsletter