Amphibians are sensitive indicators of habitat quality and their presence or absence can be used to assess wetland health. Wetlands absorb and filter stormwater, helping to protect and clean the river. Wetlands also provide critical wildlife habitat. The presence of a diverse assemblage of frog and toad species is an indication of high quality wetlands. Calling amphibians (frogs and toads) can be readily surveyed through listening surveys.
In 1998, as part of efforts to assess wildlife habitat for the Rouge River Area of Concern Friends of the Rouge began training volunteers to survey for calling frogs and toads in the watershed.
The Rouge River Watershed Frog & Toad Survey is a volunteer listening survey. Volunteers are trained to distinguish the breeding calls of the seven frogs and one toad found in the watershed. Surveyors choose a quarter square mile area within the watershed that they survey independently on warm spring nights.
Volunteers attend two training workshops in the spring: 1) An introduction to wetlands, frogs and toads of the watershed and their calls, 2) How to survey. A Rouge Frog & Toad Survey Participant’s Guide are made available to all volunteer teams as well as recordings of the calls. Volunteers choose a survey block of a quarter square mile area with wetlands close to them to survey.
Surveys are done independently on damp warm evenings from March through June. Surveys involve listening for three minutes and noting which species are calling. Surveys must be done after dark several times a month. Completed forms are returned to Friends of the Rouge who compiles, maps and reports on the data.