Urban Wildlife App: Bell Frogs

Bell frogs are some of Australia’s most charismatic frogs. They often feature on advertisements to promote the liveability of urban developments around our capital cities and towns. However, some species of bell frogs are not coping well in urban areas and we need to understand why. Most importantly, we would like to understand the conditions that enable bell frogs to survive so that we can ensure urban spaces are healthy and liveable places for both people and frogs.

The CAUL Urban Wildlife app lets you help to monitor and conserve native wildlife in Australian cities. You can record sightings of bell frogs, view all of your previous records, and see a map of where other citizen scientists have recorded bell frogs in your area.

Australian cities are built in areas with high biodiversity, and the construction and expansion of urban areas can lead to a loss of native species and ecological communities. Conserving these into the future means finding better ways for humans to share the urban habitat with other species. In order to do this, we need more information on where certain animals are found and how they are behaving in urban environments. The data you record about the behaviours and habits of urban wildlife will help us to better understand how we can manage bell frogs and their habitats so that their populations can persist and co-exist with humans.

How you can help

  1. Download the CAUL Urban Wildlife app. Available on Google Play or Apple Store
  2. Complete a quick online training session.
  3. Start recording bell frogs in your area. You can record individual sightings, or undertake a two part timed search - 5 minutes of listening followed by 15 minutes of looking. The timed searches will give us important information on both the presence and absence of our target frog species.

Species profiles

About bell frogs

Bell Frogs are a group of closely-related frogs with a similar appearance, behaviour and call that were once widespread and abundant in Australia. They are often found near still or slowly flowing water such as in ponds, swamps, dams and creeks. Unfortunately, they occur in areas of rapid urban growth and the resulting habitat changes are contributing to population declines in some species. These frog species also have to deal with introduced predatory fish species, pollution and a disease known as chytridiomycosis caused by an amphibian chytrid fungus.

There are currently five species of bell frogs and three are the focus of this app: the Growling Grass Frog, Green and Golden Bell Frog, and the Motorbike Frog.

Why are we collecting this data?

We are trying to ensure that bell frog populations can persist and co-exist with people. In particular, we are hope to discover why Motorbike Frogs in Western Australia are thriving whilst Green and Gold Bell Frogs and Growling Grass Frogs in south-eastern Australia are declining when all three species are exposed to the same threats.

This where you as citizen scientists step in: by having as many eyes as possible reporting where these frog species currently occur, we can identify the places and conditions that allow bell frogs to survive. Equally, we hope our citizen scientists will also report where they don’t find bell frogs, as this information is also very important for informing management strategies for bell frogs.

Data collected using the app will be uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

More information on the Shared Urban Habitat research project can be found here.

Banner image: Growling grass frog. Credit: Geoff Heard