Welcome to the Jungle - Day 6

By: Dr Jodi Rowley, Category: Science, Date: 14 Sep 2011

Mountains, monsoons and mosquitoes: highlights from amphibian biologist Dr Jodi Rowley's diary of her recent field trip to Central Vietnam.

Vietnam Field Trip 2011 #6b

Vietnam Field Trip 2011 #6b
Photographer: Jodi J. L. Rowley © Jodi J. L. Rowley/Australian Museum

At 2.45pm, we headed off up the mountain on the other side of the valley we were in. The trail was initially relatively flat, then increased gradually in slope until we were climbing on all-fours. My gym membership in Sydney has really paid off, and I’m able to keep up with the extremely fit guides (although I’m purple and puffing and they are barely breaking a sweat).

We waited for the rest of the team on a mossy cliff, with a stunning view to the mountains surrounding us. After a brief stop, we walked/climbed through a leafy forest with bryophytes thick on the ground, and into a dense forested plateau, with multiple streams and swamps. At about 5.30pm we stopped to eat bags of sticky rice and peanuts, and wait for nightfall.

Welcome to the Jungle - Day 6a

We waited for dark, gradually freezing (due to a combination of the cool mountain air and us being wet with sweat from our climb), until frog calls erupted from the vegetation all around us. We scurried around trying to see what was calling - after some searching we found small tree frogs, high up in the trees. I spent the rest of the night on the mountain knee-deep in mud, recording the calls of frogs in a swamp.

On our way back down the mountain, we got lost, and took a rather difficult alternative route. Most of us had at least one decent slip, but we made it back safely to the hut in the early hours of the morning.

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Interested in why I do what I do? Read more here.


Jodi Rowley - 8.09 AM, 16 September 2011

Dear Colin,

Good question! Actually, I use a directional microphone, which means I have to get as close as possible (<1m if possible) from a calling frog to record it. This usually involves me creeping closer and closer to the frog with my light turned off, and waiting until it starts calling again. You can see a photo of this in my blog from today.

I've recorded hundreds of frogs of maybe 60 or so species, mostly from Vietnam. The calls have proved invaluable in identifying species, as many frogs in the region look incredibly similar to each other, and it's the advertisement calls, along with DNA, that give us the best evidence that one species is different to another (or is even a previously undescribed species!).

It's often difficult and time-consuming, but frog advertisement call recordings are really, really valuable!


Rollers123 - 10.09 PM, 15 September 2011
Hi, how are the recordings being taken? do you use a type of boom microphone to get the equipment near the subject of interest? how many different frogs have been recorded so far? Colin

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