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Listening for frogs after dark



 Elliot in Dunsborough.


Its not all textbooks and lectures for first year students studying Aquatic Systems at Curtin University. In order to fully understand the diversity of aquatic life and system, course coordinator Chris Rawson, set an assignment asking students to visit wetland sites around the Perth. In order to develop hands on fieldwork skills and research understanding they were asked to listen for frog calls, document their observations and record sightings for ClimateWatch.

Chris Rawson said, "Traditional first year field assignments are limited to the collection of data at a known location with predictable results and narrow implications beyond the final mark. These assessment tasks leave the students wondering about the point of the effort expended collecting the data." 

"ClimateWatch presents a unique opportunity for students to gather field data which contributes to a larger project. This program facilitated the development of an assessment task that allowed the students to form basic hypotheses on where they would be likely to observe certain animals at particular times, to organise field sampling trips on a regular independent basis, gather observational data and present the findings in the context of a national project tackling an environmental issue." said Chris.

One student, Elliot Lethcford, decided to focus his data collection on the Moaning Frog (Heleioporus eyrei). "I gained preliminary knowledge on how to conduct this activity through the ClimateWatch website's public observations. Focusing on one particular species provided myself and ClimateWatch with more detail on the calling patterns of this frog."


Moaning Frog by William Archer

 "Observing the species in their most active periods in the dark, windy, rainy and cool weather after a strenuous day at university, work or training provided a difficult task. To make it a habit I incorporated my love for physical activity by traveling to my monitoring sites by either running or mountain biking through the nature trails " said Elliot.

At the conclusion of the course, Chris Rawson said "Feedback from students on this program indicated that involvement in ClimateWatch enabled them to think more broadly about both everyday observations of their environment and about the importance of careful, scientific collection of environmental data."

For Elliot time in the field had a profound impact. "I have decided to pursue a pre-major in Environmental and Agricultural Studies at Curtin University, striving to major in Environmental Biology. The ClimateWatch activity has provided me with the inspiration to focus on environmental conservation and rehabilitation of Australian natural flora and fauna."


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