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 

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