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New Audio from Chicago Area Forest Preserve Offers Peace of Mind

Shedd Aquarium’s Researchers Collect Audio Files of Frogs Calling While Continuing Critical Conservation Studies

March 25, 2020

A frog sits on a piece of wood in Carbondale, Illinois, the spring sunshine painting its dappled brown and white body in a warm glow.

Shedd Aquarium’s conservation research team took to the Forest Preserves of Cook County last week to kick off another season of studying local species of amphibians, collecting photos, video and audio recordings from a peaceful wooded ecosystem west of Chicago. The footage and audio will help Shedd Aquarium Research Biologist Dr. Melissa Youngquist identify what animal species are present in the forests and understand how habitat restoration efforts are helping bolster populations of frogs and salamanders, which are animals whose healthy populations are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. For the many individuals staying home to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the audio can also help bring peace of mind, as research shows that sounds from nature are linked to relaxation in humans.

To collect the footage and recordings, Shedd’s research team placed AudioMoths (devices that record sounds produced by amphibians, birds and other species) and cameras near ephemeral ponds, which are the locations of amphibian breeding. After leaving them there for several days, Shedd’s researchers detected the presence of boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata), which can be heard in the audio files sending mating calls during their peak reproduction season.

“These recordings come after many local volunteers bundled up over the winter and joined our Shedd team in the woods for habitat restoration work days where we removed invasive species, like common buckthorn, around ponds that frogs and other animals rely on,” said Youngquist. “The sights and sounds of amphibian breeding is a positive sign that the hard work of volunteers is helping bolster native amphibian populations and bringing greater diversity to the forests.”

Shedd researchers will continue to collect footage and audio from the forests this spring and summer, contributing to the aquarium’s ongoing efforts to safeguard species and preserve biodiversity. For those looking for ways to help, as a not-for-profit organization, Shedd Aquarium relies on support more than ever to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world.

MEDIAAudio, video and photos were collected from within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Shedd Aquarium’s researchers identified the mating sounds of boreal chorus frogs and have seen frog eggs in ponds.

Files are available for download:

Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium