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April 28, 2008
Texans Encouraged to Spend May 3 with the Frogs
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is urging Texans to go out next Saturday night — out-of-doors, that is.
May 3 has been designated as "Record the Ribbit" night by the National Wildlife Federation. Citizens across the country are being encouraged to visit a wetland site after dark and listen for the sounds of frogs and toads calling. Data can then be entered online to allow biologists to compare amphibian activity all across the country.
Spring is a prime time for observing amphibians in Texas, because most frogs and toad species come to ponds, rivers, and other wetlands to breed on spring nights. The male frogs and toads "sing" in order to attract females to the wetland and to themselves. Each of Texas’ 42 species has a unique song, from the booming of the bullfrog, to the clicking sound of the cricket frog, to the trills of the toads. "Record the Ribbit" asks volunteers to listen for some more of the common species in the state and then "record" the information on a data sheet.
Interested participants can learn what species occur in their area and what they sound like by consulting a printed field guide or an online site, such as "Herps of Texas." On May 3 they can choose to visit any site, such as a backyard ornamental pond, a local fishing pond, or a nearby stream or wetland. They can listen as long as they like, from five minutes up to several hours. Participants are encouraged to remember safety — visiting in groups if necessary — and to respect private property.
"’Record the Ribbit’ is a fun way to introduce families and just ordinary citizens to the importance of monitoring our frog and toad species," said Lee Ann Linam, a biologist with TPWD and coordinator of Texas Amphibian Watch. "Many amphibian species around the world are in trouble. We hope that simply being outside experiencing the sounds of frogs and toads helps people appreciate the value of these species. But we also hope that experience will motivate people to learn more and to join some of the long-term volunteer monitoring efforts designed to conserve amphibians in Texas, such as Texas Amphibian Watch."
For more information on Record the Ribbit, including downloadable data sheets, visit the NWF Web site. For more information on Texas Amphibian Watch, including pictures and sounds of Texas frogs and Toads and a list of Texas Amphibian Watch training workshops, visit the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:
- Herps of Texas: http://www.zo.utexas.edu/research/txherps/
- Record the Ribbit (NWF): http://www.nwf.org/ribbit/
- Texas Amphibian Watch: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/trackers/
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