martes, 30 de mayo de 2017

Evaluation of the population and habitat of Telmatobius Simonsi, a Bolivian endemic frog species.

Hello !
Léopold a frenchy biology student and Elana an American biology graduate are welcoming you on our project summary. Please take the time to read it. If you are interested at the end of this summary we are searching for field help.

Leopold and Gabriel (research coordinator) during the fieldwork in search of t. simonsi
 The project here is to focus on the conservation of an endemic species Telmatobius Simonsi. The genus Telmatobius occurs in three different types of habitats: the highlands (puna and altiplano), the temperate inter-Andean valleys, and the wet paramo: all high, tropical, mountain vegetation above the continuous timberline (De la Riva, 2005). This genus has 14 species in Bolivia, 10 of which are endemic. Forest species of the Andean genus Telmatobius have disappeared from known sites and some other Andean taxa have declined severely (De la Riva and Burrowes, 2011).
T.simonsi is endemic to the Bolivian Andes, where it has been recorded from the departments of Chuquisaca, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz , from 1,000-4000m (Köhler 2000a).
 The goal of this assessment is to evaluate the conservation status of Telmatobius Simonsi.  This will be obtained through different assessments in different areas of its original distribution across Bolivia. This will rovide information on range, ecological requirements and abundance among others. These data are absolutely crucial to allow the Bolivian conservation community to assess the current conservation status, develop and initiate realistic conservation measures that will help the conservation of the species.
Elana together with Gabriel carrying out stomach flushing in the field
For my project, I am looking at the stomach contents of Telmatobius simonsi and Telmatobius gigas and comparing them to the availability of prey in the areas where the individuals are found. By comparing what is found in the stomachs and what is found in the water, we can see what the frogs are choosing to eat from the surrounding environment.
Telmatobius simonsi
This will be important for understanding how these species play a role in the food web and potentially how their populations will be impacted by future habitat change or loss. Since both species are listed on the IUCN Red List, this study can also help captive breeding populations better understand the nutrition required for these species.
I will be examining stomach contents by stomach flushing; this involves using a syringe to push water through a tube down to the frog’s stomach, making the individuals expel their stomach contents. This is a non-lethal way to examine stomach contents and has been found to show similar results to stomach dissection. I will be examining prey availability by using dip-nets in the water to catch the macroinvertebrates that can be found in the areas the frogs are found.
Stomach flushingt to study the foraging strategies of the species

martes, 18 de abril de 2017

Trip of our volunteers to the field

Elana, one of our volunteers working in the project has been working with us helping us a lot with the captive breeding component, improving the work we are carrying out and also helping us with the frogs, and now here she wants to share some of her experiences in one trip she carried out to Titicaca Lake, we hope you enjoy it.

Gabriel, Ricardo, and I headed to Lake Titicaca for about a week to go to different localities on the lake, in both the larger and smaller portions of it, to look for frogs and check the different conditions in those areas. After a more than a 12-hour journey from Cochabamba of various buses, boats, and taxis, we finally arrived on the tiny island of Isla de la Luna which is located in the larger portion of the lake. This portion of our trip we were also joined with four other people who helped with our research.
After getting settled, at around 3 pm we set out to the lake to look for frogs. In the span of three hours and around 600 meters, we found 75 frogs of all different sizes, including one dead, one swollen, and two in amplexus. Every 10 meters we would measure the depth, visibility, habitat, and time. We would count how many frogs we found within 10 meters, and with a frog found we remarked the substrata, what the frog was doing when found, details about the frog such as sex and size, and the distance from the person who found it. Here and afterwards at every locality we visited to look for frogs, we took samples of the water to later do tests of water quality .


We set out the next morning to the same spot but spent our time in the water picking up traps we had left behind during the initiative’s last trip to Lake Titicaca and set out new ones. From the traps, we examined the invertebrates living in the water that are sources of food for the frogs. After lunch, we left the island and headed to Copacabana.
After getting off the boat that took us from Isla de la Luna to the mainland, we had a long trek uphill to our taxi with all our stuff, including wetsuits, since there were no roads in the village. The walk was worth it since the views were beautiful.

The next day from Copacabana, with just the three of us, we took a taxi to a variety of spots on the larger portion of the lake to look for frogs. At each locality we visited, we would swim 700 meters to 1 km looking for frogs. At every 100 meters we would measure the depth, visibility, habitat, and the time. Every time we located a frog, we would note the time, depth, and size and sex of frog found. We had less luck here and found only about 7 frogs.


In the evening, we also went to a pond in a close vicinity to the lake to look for frogs, with no luck. We found tadpoles in vernal pools by the pond, but we are unsure the exact species of the tadpoles.
After Copacabana, we headed to Huatajata for a night. We spent that afternoon and the following day visiting about 8 localities in total looking for frogs; this was all in the smaller portion of the lake. We weren’t so lucky here either and found fewer than 5 frogs.
For our last day, after staying in La Paz for the night, we took a bus to Taraco and went to two different localities to look for frogs, with no luck finding any.

After a beautiful but cold trip, it was nice to return back to sunny Cochabamba, even if it was at 5 am only to then get back to work by 9 am at the museum where the captive breeding facilities of this species is.

domingo, 12 de febrero de 2017

Volunteers helping us to work in conservation

One of our ways to work in the project is working together with volunteers that have the desire to do something for amphibian conservation. In this way we receive volunteers that in different ways they are helping us in different aspects of the project. In this case we have Elana a volunteer that is going to expend a couple of months with us and she is already making a difference with the work she is carrying out at the moment. Here some text that she want to share with us:

Elana working with water quality test in the captive breeding component
Hi my name is Elana Frank and I am recent graduate with a bachelors degree in Biology. I came to the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative because I wanted more experience working with amphibians before I continue my studies in herpetology and conservation. I've only been here for a few days but I'm already learning a lot from the impressive captive breeding program and the great people who work there. I am planning on spending six months with the BAI so I am currently working to come up with a project that I can dedicate that time to (more information to come soon). I'm really excited to be working with this team and I can't wait to see what these next few months bring!
Elana feeding our gigant Titicaca water frogs