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Evaluating hydrophones for detecting underwater-calling frogs

December 16, 2021

Amphibians are declining and disappearing worldwide at an alarming rate, emphasizing the need for accurate surveys to document the distribution and abundance of this imperiled taxon. Automated recorders are a powerful tool for surveyors to continuously monitor for calling amphibians. However, we are discovering that many species of frog call when submerged underwater making it challenging if not impossible for terrestrial observers to use microphones to detect them. Here, we conducted two field experiments to assess the efficacy of hydrophones for detecting underwater frog calls. The first was designed to directly compare detection probability of underwear frog calls by hydrophones, microphones, and human observers. The second was to evaluate the wetland characteristics that most influenced the detection distance of hydrophones. We found that hydrophones were 30 times more likely to detect underwater calls relative to microphones and 8.5 times more likely relative to human observers. Hydrophones detected underwater frog calls emitted 65 m away and performed best when water was deep (> 50 cm) and there were few submerged obstacles (i.e. logs) present. Hydrophones may be an important tool for herpetologists to survey for a suite of frog species known to vocalize underwater and as more practitioners use hydrophones the list of underwater-calling frogs is certain to grow.

Publication Year 2021
Title Evaluating hydrophones for detecting underwater-calling frogs
Authors Brett Alexander DeGregorio, Patrick J. Wolff, Aaron N. Rice
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Index ID 70229382
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta