miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 6 and 7

Day 6.

After a rewarding and hard working week, the penultimate day of the project was spent “in the wild” journeying to and exploring the Cloud Forest. 


The field trip allowed the team to experience the natural habitat of the frogs we have been working with over the week. Sophia and Gabriel kindly accompanied the group, guiding members through the jungle terrain. Navigating among trees, vines and steep declines provided a further challenge to the activity, but nevertheless the task of hunting for frogs was enjoyed. During the trip we were also educated upon the five species which can be found in the forest and the causes of a recent extinction. For example the presence of a fungus, commonly found in colder climates. Which interfers with the diffusion of oxygen via thickening of the frog´s skin. This has led to the hypothesised extinction of one specific species, which has not been seen for ten years. Continuing the theme of ´frogspotting´ from earlier in the True Adventure team project, the frog guerilla tactics unfortunately led to no direct frog sightings. Although, this was likely more a result of frog sleeping habits (the majority of activity occuring later in the day rather than in the morning) as opposed to devious amphibians. 

The return journey consisted of a scenic lunch break with a lagoon as the backdrop to classic English cheese rolls and crisps. The Cloud Forest trip provided an alternative view of conservation, and of the Bolivian Amphibian Intiative, allowing the team to both rest before our final day of the project in Cochabamba, and to explore a refreshingly new part of Bolivia. The contrast between the cool forest and the heat of the previous days and the opportunity to search for frogs in the wild, made the day a clear highlight of this portion of our trip.

Day 7. 

The last day of our project with the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, was spent continuing the tasks of the 18th of July. Initally both of the two teams collected nutrition for the frogs: woodlice and worms. Teams either searched in worm beds or around the museum grounds and then had the opportunity to directly feed the frogs.Container two, the tanks and the laboratory were the main settings of the morning. Team members then recorded the type of food, the number of frogs who were suceessfully fed and any abnormalities. This activity gave insight into the daily running of the project, and  the chance to observe the frogs on a much closer level. After a short break the afternoon contained further use of the colourimeter to test the levels of chemicals such as anomia, nitrite and the hardness of the water (level of calcium carbonate) assessing the quality of the water, using samples from the project itself. The water quality is a vital portion of the project as an imbalance in a certain chemical can negatively impact the frogs, for example mating success or even survival. Meanwhile, the other team aided with management of the collection, recording details for the inventory. A notable example being a giant frog from Lake Titicaca. The team also reflected upon the overall project, commenting that the variety of tasks during the week made for a highly diverse and interesting project. The opportunity to practice Spanish and see tasks through from beginning to end, made for a fulfilling week. Many thanks to the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d'Orbigny and the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, for the unique access we have had to the world of conservation and special thanks to Adriana, Sophia and Gabriel. We wish the project all the best in the future.  

martes, 19 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 5

After a day of resting and exploring Cochabamba,  the eager Godalming College team set out for another dedicated day of hard work. With transport changes due to protests splitting the group into 2 units, Adam, Lucy, Rachael and Carys arrived on the scene first and began work on the fish tank. Adam started with cutting polystyrene which was crucial to the maintenance of the tank. Lucy and Rachael both set off in search for worms for feeding the frogs. Carys embarked upon a mission of stone cutting for the improved frog tank, and moved on to cleaning out the cockroaches with fresh fruit and vegetables with Sophia. Soon after Izzy, Emma, Charlie, Abi and Becki arrived and started work on collecting woodlice for feeding the frogs along with the worms.  After catching hundreds they moved into the lab and container 1 and 2 to feed all the frogs. Emma fed all the frogs in the lab with woodlice and enjoyed the task despite frustrating location attempts. Becki and Sophia moved into container 2 and fed the frogs, woodlice and worms while Charlie and Abi explored th tanks serving the frogs worms and woodlice


After lunch, Sophia gave her first English presentation of frogs and the importance of water quality. This gave the team an insight into the process of protecting endangered frogs. After this presentation, an unwell Abi was sent to the hostel to rest along with Becki and the remaining team split into two for the following tasks. Charlie, Emma, Izzy and Rachael began work on water quality and checking the alkalinity, nitrite, ammonium, phosphate, hardness and PH of various water types.

Meanwhile, Lucy, Carys and Adam accepted the task of detailing and creating an inventory for all the preserved species for scientific studying purposes. This gave the group the opportunity to explore and learn about various species of frogs, lizards and snakes. After investigating 56 various species, the group swapped over with other half of the team and managed to widen their knowledge on water usage in ecosystems.

lunes, 18 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 4

Day 4

The day kicked off with Emma and abi finishing off yesterdays sanding of the door and replenishing the paint on the Wood. This was done efficiently amd precisely, with only a little discomfort accompanying the fact that they were instrructed to clean their hands with 100% gasoline.

Meanwhile, Adam, Becki and Rachael were directed towards a tiny room which needed to be thouroughly cleaned out and fixed up. After a somewhat interesting encounter with a pile of  plaster dust, several bags of rubbish and a lot of spiders, it was discovered that there was toilet in the back of the room. So naturally, they took a hammer to it. Once the toilet had been removed and the pipe yanked from its resting place it was soon realised that whilst taking out the loo they had also taken out several chunks of the Wall/ceiling. This led to the next job. Cementing the holes in the Wall and filling the cracks. This kept Adam and becki busy for the rest of the afternoon, with only a litle bit of misdirect(ed cement falling on becki.  

Becki was excited to learn that in Bolivia brackets (for shelves) are known as “pied de amigo” which translates to feet of friends

Lucy, Carys, Izzy and Charlie spent their day with the important but seemingly easy task of removing the frogs from their tank and renewing some of the decorations. Moving the tank itself was hard enough, this however was rendered easy by comparison when it took six people more than six hours to catch just  three frogs. This being due to the massive tunnel that had formed between the front and back sides of the tank. Therefore much cajoling involving flashlights from phones and gloved hands was used in order to get the frogs into an accesible place. Superficial repairs to the tank´s paint was attempted but due to the oliaginousness of one frog, nothing revolutionary could be done. We decided to call the last frog standing ´stubborn´, for our unwillingness to admit that his intelligence outranked ours. 

In the latter part of the day, after a well deserved lunch, the antics continued. A school presentation halted the progress of the frog hunt, but many more tasks were on offer. Rachael, Lucy and Abi took to painting the worm beds constructed yesterday, whilst Charlie, Izzy and Carys filled the beds with precompost. Upon finishing the job they moved to fill a hole surrounding a water tank.

Whilst writing this very post, shouts of elation could be heard from downstairs. Immediately we knew that ´Stubborn´ the frog had finally, after nearly nine hours, been captured. We ran as quickly as posible to get a photo, and the day ended on a high


viernes, 15 de julio de 2016

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: day 3

Day 3:
Despite the later than normal sleeping hours due to a delayed dinner, we were all eager to commit to the day`s work that lay ahead of us. Once we had arrived at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcede’d Dorbigny all individuals sprung into action, continuing tasks in progress as well as taking on new activities.
The already nailed-together wooden panels, created to construct the sides of the worm beds, were transported by member of Group 1 Rachael to their final destination and assembled, with the addition of specificially shaped wooden planks cut by our newest local face Saoul.  The inside of this newly assebled wall was given a penultimate coat of white paint,  beautifully brushed on by Becky.

Carys and Izzy filled their morning with a multitude of tasks, from painting bare wooden worm bed panels to helping the pre-compost team by ensuring a constant flow of water to moisten the mulch.
A Group 2 team of Charlie and Emma set about scavenging for leaves to include in the pre-compost mixture, switching to clearing debris and helping to ferry water from pipe to pre-compost throughout the morning.

In the greenhouse Lucy and Rachael spent a portion of their morning sifting through the earth-filled beds in search of worms, which would be used to feed the frogs.
Adam and Abi of Group 1 were joined by enthusiastic Adriana in mixing the pre-compost, in a fashion much like yesterday, by getting literally stuck in! As a colletive, everyone supported the efforts of the pre-compost crew by occasionally taking over mixing or providing materials needed to build up the mulch.

After an ice cream escapade during the lunch break, a brief rest was appreciated outside before a new array of activities was on offer. To the team`s relief no more attention was given to mixing the pre-compost, sparing the clothes and noses of those involved!
One activitity undertaken by Adam and Becky was to brush a fresh coat of white paint on top of the frog-inhabited trailer as well as the uninhabited tráiler, slowly edging forwards with the use of 2 planks for kneeling on each.

As for the Godalming college students, the afternoon was spent completing the foundations of worm bed, lined with platic tarpaulin and sectioned, to be filled with the mixed compost and bottled, sugary bacteria solution at a later date, to allow the worms to thrive. Within the greenhouse, fish tank exteriors were sprayed black which began the slowing down of work by the Godalming College volunteers as the sun eroded away.

After a tiring but thoroughly rewarding day of finishing the worm bed at last, the Godalming colege group is in for a relaxing and enjoyable evening as a team.

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog: Day 2

Day 2:
After a solid night´s sleep, we were eager and determined to complete the day´s tasks ahead. Adam and Becki, the college and True Adventure team leaders, swapped groups in order to keep abreast of the valuable contributions being made by all members. Group 1 were tasked with deconstructing a small, dilapidated outbuilding with the mission of creating a compost store by the end of the day. Becki and co thoroughly enjoyed demolishing the interior wall and decluttering the several bags, bricks and rubble that lay on the ground. 

Group 1´s success is borne out through their tidy and washed outhouse floor with Becki and Carys trying their hand at brickmaking. Here is a before and after shot of the building. 

The pre-compost was then transferred into its new fashionable outhouse with an army of Group 1 troops running to collect water from the tap to pour over the pre-compost. The pre-compost comprises non-descript manure, dry leaves, saw dust and copious amounts of water mixed together to create a dusty mulch.
Group 2 were instructed to create de tablas by nailing bars to fasten them together, further sanding of wood, finalizing chancaka breakdown and creating and pouring cement on the incline structure for the worm bed. 
The group`s split but concerted efforts were highly productive. In the afternoon capitalising on a morning of construction, Adam and Charlie created and poured the cement ready for application

 Abi and Gabriel were responsible for smoothing down the cement on top of the freshly laid bricks from yesterday´s Group 1 assembly 

After a morning of sanding down wood for de tablas, Issie and Emma painstakingly reduced down the chancaka into bacteria food for our wonderful worms.

If we felt satisfied by the end of Day 1, we were feeling very proud of our efforts by the end of Day 2 with both groups continuing until ten past six. We look forward to a very messy trip to the supermarkets for our evening of decadence.

Visitors helping amphibian conservation in Bolivia

There is strength in numbers, this is a reality, if we are working for something, in this case for amphibian conservation we think working together can make a difference. In this occasion we have the visit of a group of enthusiast students from the Godalming College United Kingdom. They are visiting us for a couple of days, but not just that, but also in this period they are going to help us with the work we are doing with amphibian conservation. It really makes a difference to work together and all this work is going to the frogs, the frogs that are in need of help and this is the story of this teamwork for the conservation.

Following days we are going to post some updates of this work and we invite you to follow us.

Godalming College True Adventure Expedition Blog:
Day 1:
After a tiring night bus journey from Potosi to Cochabamba, the Godalming College True Adventure entourage arrived outside the Museo de Historia Natural Alcede’d Dorbigny excited for the challenging opportunities that lay ahead. After perusing the many fossils, tanks and habitats that exhibited the lives of a wealth of amphibian creatures in the public museum, we were greeted upstairs to our initial presentations on the conservation focus. Gabriel, Adriana, Sophia and Eliana introduced themselves as our key colleagues of the project offering fascinating insights into the endangered lives of frogs, particularly around Lake Titicaca. The expedition´s elected team leader, Issie, organised us into two groups and we experienced a tour of the public museum with further relevant information as well as the two containers occupying our amphibian friends, worm beds and the outdoor work areas.
Tour in the facilities of the captive breeding program 

We returned from lunch with Group 1 (Lucy, Abi, Rachael, Adam) beginning by sanding down de tablas in order to construct the foundations for the worm bed. These were then painted and sawed to measure. 

Group 2 (Charlie, Carys, Emma, Issie, Becki) split themselves into transferring the pre-compost from the work area, constructing an earth incline for the worm bed and by breaking down the chankaca into milk and sugar in order to create bacteria for the compost to feed the worms. 

These tasks were swapped over with Group 1 finalising the earth incline construction by precisely placing bricks along it in preparation for cementing and Group 2 finishing de tablas and the bacteria food production 

Even though we had only worked the afternoon, we all felt exhausted yet satisfied.

sábado, 31 de octubre de 2015

jueves, 15 de octubre de 2015

Titicaca water frog population, after the massive mortalities

In April 2015 we had massive mortalities of the Titicaca water frog population in the small side of the Lake (see our previous publications). now after that we have been monitoring the situation every month to see how big was the problem, if there is still the frog over there and to get some numbers.
searching frogs in different areas of the lake

We already visited several places in the big side of the lake and the small side where we had the problems. Unfortunately in the small side of the lake the situation is not going well... we carried out several transects and no frog was found in all these areas where the forg was previously common. 

An individual found in the area close to the big side of the lake

The good thing is that in the big side of the lake the populations is going ok and in one place of the small side near to the big side we also found alive frogs, even that are in very small numbers that give us a hope.

taking samples swabs of the frog

We are going to monitor these populations and these areas to have a real idea of the situation and we are already organizing some actions that will allow us to do something for this species, and we hope that we are not too late.
taking samples of substract from the botom of the lake

lunes, 4 de mayo de 2015

Titicaca expedition: lago menor II, the massive mortalities

The water in the area is not anymore green but not yet clear
Today was a long day, early in the morning we went out to the lake near Puerto Perez, it seems that we are a little bit late, most of the frogs are already decomposed, the small sample of 106 dead frogs we collected yesterday were in very bad conditions, probably more than one week already dead. Today going to the south by boat we found some dead frogs, not so many as yesterday, the man from the boat told us that the birds ate the frogs and others just decomposed.
Dead frog found in the shore of the lake
Even that we found some frogs that were in the shore of the lake, and not just that, but also several dead birds and mostly juveniles, not sure about the reason of this but probably can be associated to this phenomenon? At the moment we just took some samples to analyze in the future.
one of the dead birds in the shore of the lake
We also wanted to know how was the situation in the center of the “lago menor”. For that we were diving in this area for some minutes and where a couple of years ago was common to see several frogs, we just found dead frogs, not so many as in the shore, and also these frogs were not so decomposed as the others and we think that these frogs have from two to five days that are dead and some of them even the same day. We think that probably these frogs were able to survive the weeks when the lake was with the problem but they died some days after.
Unfortunately we did not find any living frog in all this area, this is the first time we found 100% of the frogs dead, a couple of years ago we found in other area about 80% of the frogs dead, but never like this… we are not sure if there are still live frogs and we are planning now to monitor this area in the future to see if there were some strong enough frogs that were able to survive.
One of the forgs that were dead in the center of the lago menor
We also came back with more questions and concerns, but we also saw people and institutions that are interested to help with this situation and we really hope that we can work together to try to save this species in this area.

swabing a dead frog for BD analysis

Now we need to start analyzing the samples and the data and to see what are going to be the next steps and we think everybody has something that can do and we really hope that we can change this situation for a future for this species.

domingo, 3 de mayo de 2015

Titicaca expedition: lago menor, the massive mortalities

Collecting the dead frogs in the Lago menor
Today we were working in the lago menor side of the lake, our first two localities were not so different than before, even in one of the localities the water was not green anymore, but we noticed a big amount of zooplankton in the water, probably a normal situation after an explosion of phytoplankton.
We were travelling a lot to try to cover different areas and at the end of the day we went out by boat just some minutes and when we arrived to a spot of 3 meters by 2 we were able to find in less than 5 minutes 106 dead individuals, this with almost no effort just getting with the net the frogs that were floating in the surface of the lake, but we also noticed that there were much more individuals under the vegetation, but we did not take all these animals because was almost night.
Some of the dead frogs in the lake
With the samples we are collecting until now we saw that this event caused the death of these frogs from 5 to 10 days but the villagers told us that before there were much more but they took out those because the smell was very bad. From all the dead individuals we found we carried out some post-mortem analysis and we found that most of the dead frogs were females with eggs and in several cases the frogs had a not normal muddy substance as gut content.
Taking out the dead frogs
We are trying to collect as much samples as possible for future analysis and to try to understand what is causing this problem that it seems that is associated with the water that arrives in the rivers of the region every rainy season. But talking with the people here they say that is the first time that this happens at that scale. Also for us it was impressing to see that amount of dead frogs and even we saw in the past several deaths, we never saw at this scale.
Postmortem analysis, several females with eggs

Tomorrow we are going to start working with the boat in the area to see how the situation is; also diving in the area to see how is going in the open areas where normally the frogs are also present.

Working with the postmortem analysis

sábado, 2 de mayo de 2015

Titicaca expedition, in the lake, the lago mayor, the massive mortalities

Now from Titicaca Lake, after our first days we are working in different areas of the lake. We decided to work first in places we knew the populations of Titicaca water frog were doing well and where previously were no problems. We decided this for biosecurity reasons, because it will be very difficult for us to clean and disinfect all our equipment and diving gear in a short term. So if we move from places with less risk to others with more we think will be better.

A frog in the lake, in the Lago mayor side

 Well now our first observations, at least from the locations of the Lago mayor of the lake we found that there is no a visual change in the water, also with the analysis we did with some parameters such as ammonium, nitrite, phosphates, all of these parameters were the same as the previous months, also with the temperature, we saw in our data that there is nothing different or special.
Just in case we took different samples such as subtract of the bottom of the lake, water, different aquatic organism, all these to analyze for possible pollutants.
monitoring the frog populations in the lake

Now about the frogs, we did not see any difference, the numbers of frogs in the areas we were working were the same, also the numbers of dead frogs that we normally find where the same, so nothing special, we even saw different clutches with eggs of the frog developing very well, we did not see just one but several clutches that in the case there was something wrong with the water they would be dead.

an egg of Telmatobius culeus in the lago mayor
So for now we can say that in the side of the Lago mayor there are no massive deaths of frogs. Tomorrow we are going to start to work in the Lago menor of the lake where the deaths were recorded by the media and then we will have a better idea how is the situation over there.

jueves, 30 de abril de 2015

expedition to Titicaca lake

As you may know last week we had bad news about the situation of the frogs in Titicaca lake, now after some planning with the team of the project and some organizations and government we are now getting ready to go to the field and to see what is happening, to evaluate the real status of the frogs and also to take different kind of samples such as water quality, heavy metals, different tissues for different kind of analysis that can provide us a clue that can explain why the frogs are dying in the Lake.
the next days we will update our blog once a day so we can share the findings of this expedition, we more than welcome suggestions and comments about this

getting ready for the fieldwork in Titicaca Lake