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viernes, 26 de agosto de 2011

A mysterious tail, attack of the killer frogs and my new job!

Ouch! I ache all over from my feet to my legs, back and arms, even my face aches! It’s hardly surprising though, I have been pretty much immobile for almost a month and then jumped straight into digging in two pitfall trap lines in one day followed by about three hours of frogging. Hardcore! (or just really daft!).

However, the reason I have been immobile for the last three weeks isn’t due to some impressive field injury or exotic disease but the rather less glamorous necessity of writing a literature review. I am about to embark on a really interesting project on the Microteiidae lizards we have in abundance here at Laguna Blanca. These tiny lizards all have really interesting tails. In some species the tails are brightly coloured and in other species they are disproportionately long (as in three times their snout-vent length!). Why is this? Is it an anti-predator strategy to deflect attention to the tail which they can then shed? And if so why have colourful tails when most of their predators are likely to be colour blind? So many questions need to be answered and theories eliminated before I can even begin to get started on those two biggies! It looks set to be a very long but extremely interesting project, which is probably why I went a little mad digging in pitfall traps to catch more lizards and now I ache all over!

Last night’s frogging was amazing! Arriving here in the autumn meant I just caught the tail end of the amphibian season, so I have spent the winter quietly chomping at the bit waiting for the spring when they all wake up again. And I am happy to report I think it’s finally here. Last night I heard more species in one place than I have so far since I arrived. The Rhinella schniederi (the really big toads you may have seen if you have looked at our previous volunteers photos) were out in force, chorusing their little hearts out. Actually it got quite intimidating at one point as I was there alone, in the dark, knee deep in muddy water and the giant toads started moving closer and closer and every time I turned round to look at them, they stop moving… but were somehow closer when I looked back. OK so my imagination may have got the better of me a little there but it was still a little bit freaky. I do really love those toads though I think they may be my favourite!

So once I’d escaped the attack of the killer toads I headed over to the vernal pool which is just outside the Atlantic Forest. OMG! It was amphibianarama! I don’t know how many species were out in force last night but lets just say - it was a lot. I came back to camp with seven captures that I’m about to key out and I also recorded several minutes of their sounds which I can now use to identify which species were present. Absolutely amazing so if anyone needs me after dark I’ll be knee deep in mud with a microphone in one hand and a frog in the other!

I have other news for you all too. I have a new job title. I am now the Volunteer Co-ordiantor and Museum Curator. This doesn’t mean however that I’ll be trapped inside the museum, quite the opposite in fact. It means that I will now be responsible for the species inventories, which means more field work and a wider variety of jobs (woo hoo!). So while I will still be largely involved in the herp project, it also means that the lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), bird and bat inventories will also be my responsibility. And this is where more volunteers come in! I am going to need volunteers to help me. I’m going to need people to assist with catching butterflies, mist netting for birds and bats, checking my pitfall trap lines and of course helping catch frogs! So what are you waiting for get on-line, book a place and come and join us at Laguna Blanca. There’s not a moment to lose!!!

Hasta pronto!

Helen

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