It’s that time of year when frogs and toads come out in loud throngs to the wetlands of the Central Platte River! You may think summer nights are calm and quiet, but not for everyone. I’ve had the exciting opportunity to go out with Crane Trust staff biologists in the warm evenings and learn to identify local anuran species by sound (anurans are frogs and toads). Anurans make their mating calls starting at dark and may continue calling into the early morning. Our monitoring method is a low-impact way for us to note changes in species abundance over time.
From April through July, we head out to our designated wet survey spots and listen, counting the number of each species we hear. Many nights, it’s a loud chorus of many species at once! We’ll often hear the boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata) calling from swampy spots. The woodhouse’s toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) can be heard in mixed-grass prairie and sandy riverbanks [photo left]. We’ll also hear the Cope’s gray tree frog (Hyla chrysoscelis), which hangs out in woodland areas [photo below]. There is a large diversity in the soundscape of anurans calling - some produce a high-pitched rattle, while others make a deep croak.
We’re keeping a special ear out for the northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans). It’s a rare find here, among other uncommon species, as this area of Nebraska is known to be in its western-most range.
The monitoring of anurans throughout the region is extremely important because they are very sensitive to climate variables, landscape changes, and differing management practices. They are also a food source for Whooping Cranes stopping over on their migration!
On warm summer nights, you can step out your back door, stroll over to a wetland, or listen along the river and you’re sure to hear the frog and toad chorus! Keep a tally of how many different calls you can hear!
I am very excited to keep learning about the local anurans and their importance here. If you're interested in how to identify different species by sound and sight, check out the Crane Trust's resources on frogs and toads!
Charlie, Crane Trust Saunders Conservation Fellow