Why Monitor Western Chorus Frogs?
The Western Chorus Frog (WCF) is a small tree frog that reaches 2.5cm in length and can be identified by 3 broken dark vertical stripes down its back and a distinctive white stripe on its upper lip. It is usually heard more often than seen, with a loud breeding call that sounds like a finger running through the teeth of a metal comb! The WCF is one of the first frog species to begin calling each year in the spring, preferring to breed in temporary wetlands that lack fish predators and dry up in the summer. This species ranges across southern Ontario, north to Huntsville, and east to Quebec (see map below).
Map of Western Chorus Frog observations in Ontario. Note that the Carolinian population (red shading) is not listed as a species at risk and is likely a genetically distinct population from the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population. Figure: WCF Recovery Strategy, Environment and Climate Change Canada (2015).
Frogs are widely accepted as environmental indicators and are important to Ontario’s biodiversity. Unfortunately, the Western Chorus Frog (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Population) is listed as a threatened species in Canada. It is experiencing ongoing population declines throughout its range due to several factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation, water pollution, and invasive species. An important step to the continued persistence and recovery of the Western Chorus Frog in Canada is to collect more detailed information about their abundance and distribution across their range. This data will fill-in important knowledge gaps about their habitat and distribution, help inform recovery efforts, and allow the conservation community to quickly detect and respond to population declines over time!
The Western Chorus Frog Monitoring Program
In 2020, Blazing Star Environmental partnered with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Trent University to establish a long-term WCF monitoring program. The primary goals of the monitoring program are to update the current distribution of WCF across its range, determine how this distribution is changing over time, and identify new patches of important habitat for this threatened species. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we were able to safely collect data in 2020 and 2021 and are returning for one last year of field surveys in 2022 to complete the first 3-year data collection period for the program!
Data collection for the WCF Monitoring Program primarily involves conducting targeted field surveys for calling frogs during their breeding season in the spring. Surveying for WCF poses unique challenges because of their large range and relatively short calling period (4-6 weeks in most areas), and our team at Blazing Star Environmental simply does not have the capacity to conduct all the necessary work ourselves. Therefore, the success of this program largely depends on the participation of passionate volunteers across the Ontario range of the WCF!
In 2021, the program’s dedicated volunteers detected Western Chorus Frogs at 241 locations, and we hope to record even more frog detections this year!
Who Can Participate?
Anyone! People of all skill levels and ages are encouraged to volunteer!
We are especially looking for volunteers located in the northern extent of WCF range (brown shaded areas in map below).
A map showing the priority survey areas for the WCF monitoring program (brown shading)
An example of the small, shallow wetland habitats used for breeding by Western Chorus Frogs.
Photo: Monique Arts
The program can be tailored to your schedule!
To participate, volunteers need only choose the number of sites they wish to survey, the distance they are willing to travel, and to conduct 5-minute auditory surveys 3 times during the calling period (March to early June).
Blazing Star Environmental invites you to join the chorus this spring by volunteering with the long-term WCF monitoring program! If you are interested in volunteering, follow the steps below to register for the program and get started!
Do you have questions about the program? Contact Us here.
We sincerely thank all those you have already volunteered with the program or are planning to this upcoming year; this work would not be possible without you all!
Program Volunteer Steps:
Create a user account to log in to our website (Go to Program Registration section)
Register for the program, and choose your training webinar timeslot by completing the Volunteer Registration Form (Go to Program Registration section)
Attend a training webinar hosted by Blazing Star Environmental
Prepare for your field surveys by reviewing the program website training materials
Complete Western Chorus Frog surveys at your assigned field sites (3 surveys per site during breeding season)
Submit your survey data online through the data portal on our website
Thank you for your interest in the Western Chorus Frog Long-Term Monitoring Program! Program registration is closed for the 2022 season, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more volunteer opportunities
We encourage all interested volunteers to reach out with any questions about the monitoring program to the following email address: email@example.com. We will respond to all questions as soon as possible.
Additional WCF Resources
Western Chorus Frog species profile – Ontario Nature
Western Chorus Frog species profile – FrogWatch
Western Chorus Frog Recovery Strategy – Environment and Climate Change Canada
Quebec Western Chorus Frog Ambassador Program - La Rainette Faux-Grillon