“Frog researchers asked the public to record mating calls and got everything but in response; a ‘deep, chirpy sound’”
Australian scientists recently asked smart phone owners to record frog mating calls for them. Scientists have been tirelessly listening to hundreds of these recordings in an office at the Australian Museum in Sydney, although most recordings appear to be of insects, dogs barking and even people arguing.
Australia is home to roughly 240 different species of frogs. The scientists’ intent is to catalogue the frogs’ mating calls, and they had hoped that they could get some help from us non-scientists.
The scientists released a cell phone app, which was specifically designed for people to record these frog mating calls and send them directly to the scientists. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is not a new idea.
Scientists have been calling on the public to be their eyes and ears with similar projects, such as tracking rabbits in New Hampshire and snapping pictures of clouds for NASA.
I definitely have mixed feelings about this concept. While, I get the convenience of so many people having smart phones, I don’t think the average person is as reliable as one would think, especially with complex tasks such as these. Taking pictures of clouds seems simple enough, but having people track animals can get kind of dodgy, in my opinion.
My concern is that untrained people would not use the same level of caution and care as a scientist would when entering the habitats of these animals. I also believe that people may cause harm to the animals and environment because of the myopic attitude of wanting to be the one that got the desired video clip or sound bite.
The Wall Street Journal article goes on to further discuss how unreliable the sound bites of the frogs being sent in are. Scientists at the Australian Museum in Sydney have complained that they are receiving an overwhelming number of recordings of crickets and cicadas, but no frogs.
I honestly can’t blame the people that are sending these audio clips in. To the untrained ear, frogs and insects sound eerily similar. The Wall Street Journal has a test, and out of the all of the audio clips I listened to, I only got about 30% correct, which is very poor.
I do hope that some of the data submitted by the non-scientists can be rendered useful, but it appears to be difficult to sift through all of the useless information, much like a lot of the noise we’re all exposed to on the internet.