Frog Watch keeps an eye on SWFL’s frog population

Published: August 18, 2022 4:51 PM EDT
Updated: August 18, 2022 6:17 PM EDT

Frogs symbolize fertility in ancient Egypt, Luck in Japan and in some Native American cultures, the frog symbolizes rain.

But in Southwest Florida, they’re all about water quality.

Heidi Randall is a first-time frog watcher.

And the croaking creatures already love her.

“So frogs are an indicator species. When frogs are in an area that usually indicates the health of an ecosystem,” Randall said.

Frog Watch, the nationwide group, started more than 20 years ago when people realized species living intimately with the water are a good measure for water quality. Now they monitor the hoppy creature’s mating habits, locations and croaks.

“And if we’re putting the wrong stuff in the water, then it gets manifested in our frog populations quickly,” said Win Everham, professor of ecology and environmental studies at FGCU.

Everham leads Frog Watch in Southwest Florida.

Volunteers and citizen scientists set up routes in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.

Then visit 13 different ones once a month from June to September.

They look, listen and document.

“We’ve lost some frogs at particular places. And it shouldn’t be any surprise, right? If you’ve got a wetland and then you move in and the wetland becomes a stormwater pond and asphalt, you’ve maybe lost some habitat,” Everham said.

Everham said everything is connected.

“If you see behind us asphalt, rain hits it, it runs off,” Everyham said. “So if you don’t have places that can hold that water back, then you haven’t created a habitat for the frogs,” Everham said.