Froglife uses a range of digital technology to achieve conservation initiatives for amphibians and reptiles. This page outlines some of the key methods that we use to help declining amphibian and reptile populations across the UK.
Dragon Finder app:
Launched in May 2013 as part of our London Dragon Finder Project, this free smart phone app can be used to identify and record native UK amphibian and reptile species.
Download the app here
You can use the app to:
- Identify all native UK amphibian and reptile species
- Find out more about each species, including listening to their calls
- Record your sighting
So far we have had several thousand downloads of the app, recording 2,105 amphibians and 156 reptiles from across the country. See our interactive map here.
We have used records from the app to plan new projects, evaluate the success of existing ones and highlight gaps in the data. We also aim to improve data records for amphibians and reptiles and identify which are the most threatened species.
Camera traps and analysis software:
Since 2013 Froglife have been using specially adapted infra-red time-lapse cameras to monitor the movements of amphibians through wildlife tunnels from 24 tunnels across the UK and northern Europe.
Froglife have also developed a specially adapted computer script to analyse images, which removes 70-90% of empty frames therefore vastly improving efficiency of data analysis. We have analysed over 5.7 million images and recorded several thousand records of great crested newts, smooth newts, common frogs and common toads using tunnels. The images are of high quality and we are able to identify species, direction of travel, sex (if possible), age and whether individuals have made complete tunnel crossings. We have also recorded numerous non-target species including badgers, otters, stoats, rabbits, bank voles, cats and foxes.
The results from our research are enabling us to provide conservation advice in relation to effective installation of wildlife tunnels. This will lead to greater success for mitigation projects for species such as the great crested newt.
Froglife have recently developed a virtual reality experience: “When will wildlife get the green light?”. This has been highly successful at a range of events in promoting conservation of the common toad. We have developed the unique experience which takes users through a wildlife tunnel to experience life as a common toad. For further information see our web page here.
Froglife have recently been using drones to evaluate the success of habitat restoration and creation projects. Aerial photos are more effective than traditional photography or mapping technology as they show more ponds and habitat features within the wider landscape. This is useful for monitoring the success of habitat projects as well as being highly valuable for landscape scale conservation. Aerial photos can be used to identify key areas for conservation and identify effective positioning of wildlife corridors.
Looking ahead, Froglife aim to use fixed-point aerial photography to monitor the ongoing success of habitat projects by documenting changes in pond size, hydrology and succession over a number of years. This will enable more effective implementation of habitat projects and improve conservation of amphibian and reptile species.
In our new Come Forth for Wildlife project, we will be developing new Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. Users will have the opportunity to explore natural habitats using AR headsets and smartphones. Further details will follow.
To find out even more about what Froglife do, click here.