Environment

This cracking, croaking app wants to save Australia’s endangered frogs

By Oliver Smith 10 November 2017
Image: Freder/Getty.
Summary

A ribbiting idea.

Researchers in Australia are launching a nation-wide frog count, using a smartphone app that can identify different species of frog by recording the sound of their croaks and ribbits.

FrogID has been created in partnership with IBM Watson, in order to track Australia’s declining frog population.

Using GPS and your smartphone’s microphone, it can identify and place frog populations just by recording the sounds around parks, creeks, or waterways and comparing these to archived recordings of different frog species.

Users can also use the app to have a go at guessing which frogs they’ve heard.

Our amphibious friends

“Frogs are a tipping point in the environment – as one of the first animal species to feel the impact of changes in climate and habitat, their health is a key indicator of how our environment is changing,” said Dr Jodi Rowley, curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology at the Australian Museum.

Traditionally such a large-scale effort to identify and count frogs would have led to people handling and trying to photograph the sensitive critters, not an easy task.

Rowley says recording audio is even more accurate than a visual inspection, as you can monitor frogs without disturbing them.

“Frogs are the most endangered group of animals on Earth and up to four Australian native frog species have already been lost to extinction, so we must act now to understand our frogs and protect them,” she explains.

And it’s not the first time we’ve seen smart tech used to save species.

Play your part

Last year Friends of the Earth launched the Great British Bee Count app, which let Brits submit info on the bees they’d spotted around and contribute towards a nation-wide bee count.

Even this year the People’s Trust for Endangered Species launched an app to help families contribute to its ‘Mammals on Roads’ survey by share your animal sightings on a car trip.

With the thousands of endangered species across the animal kingdom, from bees to frogs and squirrels, knowing how many are left and where they are, has never been more important.

And now everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, it’s never been easier to play your part too.