Citizen Monitoring – Amphibian Phenology

We started this project in 2017 to better understand when different species of frogs and toads are most active in the shallow waters of the lagoon and shoreline. Volunteers briefly visit Vilas Lagoon each night after sunset and make note of the weather and which frogs or toads they hear calling. Monitoring begins in spring and ends in mid-summer.

What does phenology mean?

Phenology is the study of the natural cycles and schedules and it helps us understand the impacts of changing weather and climate. People observe this by going out to document what happens each spring as plants and animals wake up from their winter sleep and respond to the warmer spring weather.

Why is monitoring the natural cycles of amphibians important?

This baseline data can be used to inform the City of Madison Parks Department and Dane County so they conduct weed harvesting in a responsible manner and at appropriate times. Otherwise, amphibians could be unnecessarily killed. Why? For frogs and toads shallow waters offer habitat, a place to lay eggs,  space for tadpoles to grow. When frogs and toads feel threatened, they also seek shelter in weeds, which can be a problem if a large mechanical weed harvester is taking away their homes.

More about the Lake Wingra Amphibian Phenology Project