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. Surveying for WCF poses unique challenges because of their large range and relatively short calling period (4-6 weeks in most areas), therefore, the success of this program largely depended on the participation of passionate volunteers across the Ontario range of the WCF!
Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we were able to safely collect data in 2020, 2021 and 2022! The program will now be on a 5 year break, and will resume in spring of 2028!
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
We’re hard at work analyzing the program data and are excited to share it with you soon! Stay tuned for more info!
Support WCF Conservation
Sill interested in supporting WCF conservation and recovery while the Long-Term Monitoring Program is on break? Here are some ways you can contribute to WCF recovery in Ontario:
Report WCF Observations to iNaturalist or the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC)!
Use the WCF Survey Protocol (linked below) to lead your own WCF surveys!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more volunteer opportunities!
Have questions about the protocol, program, or additional volunteer opportunities? Send us an email at 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 – FrogWatch
Quebec Western Chorus Frog Ambassador Program - La Rainette Faux-Grillon