Michigan Frog and Toad Malformation Survey



Name of Teacher ______________________  School: ____________________________________


School Address ___________________________________________________________________

                                              street                                     P.O. Box                  City                                         Zip                          

School phone: (___)_____________________________ Teacher’s Email: _____________________   


Name of group leader: ______________________________________________________________


# of Observers: _____ Names of Observers: ____________________________________________


Date (m/d/yr): ____________ Time: ___________ # Hours Site Surveyed: _____ County: _________


Directions to Site (from nearest highway): __________________________________________________




Legal description (Township/Range/Section/ 1/4 Section): _______N_______E/W_______Sec__________


Wetland Name (?) ________________________________ Approx. size (acres): ________________


Ownership: _______________________________________________________________________

Wetland Type (see MDNR Wetland Type definitions):

Bog or Fen       Wooded Swamp          Vernal Pond          Marsh         Lake       Wet Meadow


Site General Description: ____________________________________________________________



Obvious Water Sources (river, groundwater, precip): ______________________________________


Surrounding Land Use (total 100%):       ______% cropland              _____% residential             _____% commercial

_____% road        _____%  forest       _____% pasture               _____% old field                 _____% Other: ____________


Survey Results






































Comments: _____________________________________________________________________________________



Please fill out a DEFORMED FROG AND TOAD DATA SHEET for each deformed specimen examined from this site and attach to this data sheet. Check the Center’s website for annual updates on deformities (www.wupcenter.mtu.edu ).


Mail or Email completed data forms to: 

Joan Chadde, Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education, 105 Dillman Hall,

Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton MI  49931-1295    Email: jchadde@mtu.edu

Deformed Frog Survey Protocols

Adapted from Robert Hay, Bureau of Endangered Resources, WI Dept of Natural Resources

and Methodology for Surveying Malformed Frogs on National Wildlife Refuges



The primary survey goal is to determine the presence of deformities by species, and the prevalence, type and distribution of deformities at a variety of wetland types throughout Michigan.  This information will be used to help scientists target areas for further study.


Site Selection & Timing

Wetlands surveyed should have known breeding activity.  An evening auditory survey should be conducted at least once in April and again in late May to determine all of the frog species present.  Deformed frog surveys should ideally occur in late-June, mid-July and mid-late August in order to sample the range of species during metamorphosis.  It is best to sample froglets (froglets with four legs and tail but still aquatic), and metamorphs (recently transformed from a tadpole) as they are just leaving the water.  Predation rates on deformed frogs are expected to be high.  Green, mink and bullfrogs typically overwinter as tadpoles and transform in mid-summer. 


Sampling Equipment Needed

Rubber boots or waders                       Live wells - plastic gallon buckets with lids or clear plastic habitat containers

Dip nets                                    Camera and film

Site data sheets                         Frog deformity checklist sheets

Clipboard & pencil                   Frog ID poster (laminated)

Peat moss                                 Water sampling kits (thermometer, pH, DO)

Insect repellant (apply by using the back of your hands to protect frogs’ skin)


Sampling Instructions

The goal is to capture 50-100 froglets per wetland site.  Have students work in groups of 4-5 per group.  Assign responsibilities to each group member:  record data, catch frogs with net, catch frogs with hands, carry live well, ID frogs that are caught and look for deformities.


When approaching the water’s edge, frogs will likely jump in. Wait patiently for them to resurface. Then, move your net carefully toward the frog, coming at it head-on.  Flip the net over the frog quickly, plunging it several inches beneath the water surface.  Retract the handle. 


A recommended way to observe each froglet is to hold them under the front legs with the frog facing you and the hind legs dangling down. Check that both eyes, front legs, and rear legs are present and symmetrical.  Count the toes (four on front feet; five on rear feet).  If the abnormality is obviously trauma-related (predated, leg broken during capture, etc.), then record as normal. 


If you observe any deformed frogs, please complete a deformity data sheet for each deformed frog, in addition to, the site survey data sheet for the entire site.  Also, photograph each deformed frog found, then release the frog to where it was captured. A camera with a manual electronic flash and a macro lens (or extension tubes) will provide the best photograph.  Captured frogs should be kept in a live well with ½” water and wet moss, or in a large container or 5 gallon plastic bucket, half filled with water to prevent frogs from reaching the bottom with their legs and being able to jump out.


Developed by the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education (formerly Center for Science and Environmental Outreach) and the School of Forestry & Wood Products at Michigan Technological University.  This project was made possible by citizens who contributed to the Michigan NonGame Wildlife Fund on the Michigan income tax form or by a direct donation to the Fund. The Michigan NonGame Wildlife Fund is administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.