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Survey Information...Survey Overview

The Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey (WFTS) includes approximately 100 permanent roadside routes throughout the state where volunteers monitor frog populations through calling surveys. Each route consists of 10 listening stations within hearing distance of wetlands that represent the range of local anuran breeding habitats such as ephemeral ponds, lakes, meadows, marshes, and wooded swamps. Stations are located far enough apart that individual frogs cannot be heard from more than one station. Depending on local topography and vegetation, inter-site distances can be as close as 0.5 miles, but may be up to 2.0 miles.

Routes are run after sunset under favorable conditions, i.e., relatively warm air temperature, wind <8 mph, and preferably high humidity. Most routes are 10-25 miles in length and take 2-3
image of Wood Frog
hours to complete. At each station the observer listens for 5 minutes (or up to 10 minutes if necessary due to noise interference) and records one of the following call index values for each frog species heard calling:
  1. Individuals can be counted; there is space between calls (no overlapping of calls).
  2. Calls of individuals can be distinguished but there is some overlapping of calls.
  3. Full chorus. Calls are constant, continuous, and overlapping; individual calls can not be distinguished.
Because the annual calling period of each species is fairly short and is different from the calling period of other species, volunteers run each route a total of 3 times every year, once each during the following sampling periods:
  • Early spring (April 8-30 and minimum water temperature of 50°F)
  • Late spring (May 20 - June 5 and minimum water temperature of 60°F)
  • Summer (July 1-15 and minimum water temperature of 70°F)
Water temperatures are recorded where feasible, and where they appear to represent the conditions in which frogs are breeding. Air temperature, wind speed (Beaufort scale), and sky condition are recorded at the beginning and end of each route. Volunteers are asked to comment on changes in wetland conditions, problems with background noise, etc., and are encouraged to take along at least one other reliable observer who can run the survey alone if the primary observer is unable to do so at any time.
© 2006 Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey
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This site is produced in conjunction with the Wisconsin Aquatic and Terrestrial Resources Inventory and sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The information presented on this site is subject to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Legal Notices, Disclaimers, and Terms of Use.