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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
NEVADA FWO:  Biologists Use Technology to Monitor Columbia Spotted Frogs
Region 8, July 14, 2009
Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) (photo: USFWS)
Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Chad Mellison (right) and Allen Taylor install an antenna to track the movement of spotted frogs in the upper Reese River Basin. (photo: USFWS)
Chad Mellison (right) and Allen Taylor install an antenna to track the movement of spotted frogs in the upper Reese River Basin. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

To gain a better understanding of a population of Columbia spotted frogs, a team of Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office biologists began using a tracking method traditionally used to track movements of fish. Using passive integrated transponders, commonly referred to as PIT tags, biologists are now able to track movements of tagged frogs year-around in a remote area in the upper Reese River Basin.

PIT tags are tiny internal electronic markers. Each PIT tag contains a unique alphanumeric code that transmits its information when it is activated by a reader or antenna, similar to scanning a bar code in a grocery store. As tagged spotted frogs pass through specially designed antennas, biologists can track their movement through stream channels.

By using this technology, biologists will soon have a better understanding of when and where the frogs move, growth rates, population estimates and survival. They will now be able to answer questions such as: are frogs only moving in spring during high water to get to breeding grounds; do they move over the course of the summer as certain habitats dry and become unsuitable; what sex is most likely to move; and is a certain age group more likely to move than another?

Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov