Tune into Frogs in your Neighbourhood

Spring is a great time to be outside. One of the things you might hear along with the patter of rain and birds singing is the croaking of frogs. So spring is the time that frogs are starting to come back to ponds and wetlands to reproduce.  Let’s get out there and find out who croaks near you.  

Part 1: What amphibians live near you?

What to Do:

  • Find out where there are wet places in your neighbourhood. Look for swamps, marshes, ponds lakes, streams or even drains and culverts near you, and then go out and explore these areas. Stop of listen – can you heard any frog sounds?
  • Listen to the clips attached and see if you can identify any of the frogs you heard by comparing them to the sound clips here.
The Pacific chorus frog - Pseudacris regilla, our most common native frog in the region and one that people will hear all over the region in the Spring.
Non-native American bullfrog - Lithobates catesbeianus, which is a destructive invader from Eastern North America introduced here after WWII as an economic stimulus project (farmed frog's legs) in the Fraser Valley. It doesn't start calling until the weather gets really warm, usually June or July. 

Part 2: Once you know the different sounds each frog type makes you can begin to see where in your neighbourhood each frog type prefers to live.

  • Go to a few different types of wetland – maybe a marsh, a pond, a creek and listen to which type of frog makes this place its home.
  • Does one frog type prefer a certain habitat?
  • Check out the time of day they are busiest with croaking?
  • Is it the same for each type of frog?
  • Visit the same places again after a week or so and notice if the sounds have increased. When do the frog sounds stop?
  • Does the weather make any difference? Are there more frog sounds when it’s raining or dry?

What’s going on?

Frogs croak or make sounds for a few reasons, but mainly to attract a mate for breeding, or to defend a territory. Spring is the time that frogs reproduce in wet areas or habitats, so that’s why you may hear them in spring at a wet area near you.

Each frog species has its own characteristic call – this allows frogs to find a mate by sound alone, and it also helps us identify which frog is which.

In your neighbourhood wetlands you’ll know when frog breeding season is going on because then the frog calling will be at its greatest. You will also be able to tell which frogs are breeding by identifying their different calls.

Our native frogs breed in ponds and wetlands. You will most likely hear them in parks or other natural preserved areas. Maybe you have some in your garden or in the area around your school.

These days, many wetland areas are being converted to other uses by humans. A marsh might be drained to build houses for example or a mall. While this is bad news for our native frogs, the bull frog (which was introduced) has adapted to breeding in disturbed habitats like these. They may even breed in culverts in new developments. Because they are more adaptable they may outcompete our native frogs.

Find out what is being done in your neighbourhood to preserve frog habitat. The frogs will thank you.

SFU Scientists

Meet Wendy Palen, Amphibian Advocate

Wendy is passionate about aquatic (wet) communities and their ecology. Some of the things she and her students research are the amphibian populations in the Pacific Northwest, the food webs in rivers and lakes that support young salmon, and the balance between energy and our environment. 

Read more here...

Wendy Palen's research website