Frog Rescue A Launch-Pad To Save The Planet, Says Explorer Jodi

Perhaps you knew that every frog has a unique “ribbit” – but did you also know that the Australian green tree frog, so ubiquitous that in some regions it’s simply called the dunny frog, can live for 35 years?

That’s just one of the things you learn when you sit down with conservation biologist and National Geographic Explorer Dr Jodi Rowley.

“I'm obsessed with frogs, so everything I do is an attempt to understand and ultimately conserve our amazing amphibian friends so they're around for future generations,” the effervescent explorer tells National Geographic.

“Most of my work is in biodiversity hotspots areas that have amazing biodiversity that's found nowhere else, but is also under incredible threat.

“So my job is to get out there don a headlamp in the middle of the night, explore the forest and find out what amazing amphibians are there and what we need to do to save them.”

Dr Jodi Rowley at FrogID is launch in Sydney at The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2017.
Photo Credit: James Alcock/Australian Museum

So far Rowley's work has led the Australian Museum-based PhD and her team discovering over two dozen new species of frog - partially as a result of National Geographic funding.

To do all this Rowley has to of course get out of her comfort zone, in a very real sense.

“We pick forests nobody has explored for frogs before and we go out largely in the monsoon season, which is the worst season for human comfort.

“It's usually pouring all the time and leeches are really active and we go out at night.

“We walk down streams, climb down waterfalls and see what's there.”

When she’s not exploring in the forest or the swamps Jodi is exploring in her office comparing known species of frogs and DNA tests to see if she has indeed identified a new amphibian.

“Once we’ve established that it is a new species it’s published in a scientific paper; the next step is to tell everybody that we found this awesome frog.

“We also do a conservation assessment, which are available publicly so we use all the information we have to find if the frog is threatened, is it facing extinction? What do we need to do?

“I work really hard to make sure that everything I do is publicly available out there and people understand more about this amazing planet and get the information they need to make the conservation decisions we need to make.”

And why is it so important that we identify these critters?

“It’s a race against time to discover the frogs and the other amphibians we have and make sure that we can make informed conservation decisions so we can have future generations listening to the whistles, clicks and hoots of frogs.”

And Rowley's advice to would-be explorers?  “Following your passion is the most important thing you can do.

“It’s incredibly empowering. I think the only way you can do that is to follow what you love doing.”

For those of us who live in our cities and despair of being able to do anything concrete to preserve today’s and future generations Rowley has some advice.

“Getting involved in conservation can be little bit abstract sometimes especially if you’re living in the city.

“You can do a lot of little things to make a difference and they really do add up.

“The most important thing you can do is act locally. So if there’s something around you - maybe a waterway that needs revegetating or cleaning up - you can do something.”

She urges people to join a community that’s working actively towards coming up with the solution near where you live.

“It’s an amazing way to get involved and the other thing and is tell your friends get people involved share things on social media and try and where a raise awareness and passion for this planet.

“The sort of issues that we’re facing in Australia around water, around climate change - we need everyone to work together to find solutions.”

One way people can really get involved is by taking part in Australia’s biggest frog count. It’s currently Frog ID week and by downloading the Frog ID app, citizen scientists can use their smartphone to record frog calls across Australia.

The frog recordings collected, together with their time and location data, provide an audio map of frog species across Australia and help identify areas and species under threat.

More information on FrogID and how you can help save our frogs can be found at www.frogid.net.au.

 

Lead Image Credit: iStock

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