Eight weeks in the jungle…..

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First post from the jungle I hope you all enjoy…

So I arrived in Peru on the 30th June with the DICE group and my other half Sophie who will be joining me for this trip, it is her first time in South America and she will be helping me as my research assistant, so we will see how she copes with all the frogs!

So we are finally back in Iquitos after eight weeks out in the jungle, we were hoping to head back to Iquitos with the DICE group at the start of July however, it was not possible due to the lack of boats going back into the reserve. We only have until tomorrow in Iquitos then we are flying to Panama for a amphibian conference in Costa Rica!

We arrived in the jungle back on the 5th June with only the DICE group, it was a very small group to start with. There were four of them, Imogen and Paul working on amphibian projects as well as Kirsten (Caimans) and Ellie (Primates).  The first two weeks we worked in this small group and surveys were all running very smoothly with lots of data being collected. After two weeks the Operation Wallacea group joined us, it was very strange going from such a small group to such a large one however, it was very enjoyable to see all the new students and catch up with people I have not seen since last year. With this group came two dissertation students working with amphibians bringing our little research group up to six.

Concerning the frog project we had been undertaking very similar surveys to last year with terrestrial transects both day and night and night time floating meadow surveys. We have also been doing occasional excursions during the day to visit the lake and channel, to observe and photograph the changes in water level. Over the past 8 weeks we have found well over 30 amphibian species, around 700 individual frogs and a few salamanders. We even found a Salamander species not yet recorded in the reserve Bolitoglossa peruviana, this is a very interesting species. It’s much smaller than the other species we find with a very small tail in comparison to its body size hence why we know it is a different species and not a juvenile of the other species. We had a very exciting species last week it was our final survey on transect 5 which is downriver from the site. We found a Phyllomedusa species, this are often called monkey frogs and are very interesting species! This was probably one of the best (and most diverse) transect we had this year with 10 individual and 8 different species in just one evening.

Furthermore, this year I have also had a great opportunity to start some new surveys. Due to the extreme flooding which occurs here (the water levels can change by over 8 meters a year) the forests can be flooded for many months. This means many species may be displaced from their usual terrestrial habitats and therefore I am undertaking surveys into the canopy to see if there are any new and exciting species to be found. This we are doing with the use of ropes and climbing techniques to climb up and search bromeliads in the canopy. We have so far searched over 30 trees and nearly 100 bromeliads however have not had much luck with the frogs less than ten have actually been caught with a few more escaping before we could identify them. However we do have one species of Pristimantis which as yet we have not been able to identify so fingers crossed this is something not yet recorded here. We have also been trying some methods to search lower bromeliads only a few meters off the ground by use of a small ladder which was made by our guide Romel.

We have seen several interesting snakes this year, (sorry mother for all the photos!) we probably see two or three a week many of which are dangerous however we steer well clear of them and they keep away from us. We have seen several fur de lances, coral snakes and even a rainbow boa and an anaconda which was 3 meters long! We see many lizards and have even seen a few caiman on transects as well, it is unusual to see them on terrestrial transects however we see them in small water bodies within the forest and smaller channels. Transects have been very interesting for wildlife spotting, we have seen most primate species as well as ant eaters, and rats! We even saw a white sloth, which was down on the ground and moved up quickly into the trees, well quickly for a sloth!

So this year, the Clavero has been home for the past 8 weeks, we also have the Patacia and the Rio Amazonas here, housing the many operation Wallacea volunteers and students. As well as the people there are many animals living on the boats, numbers spiders have been removed from rooms! The Osteocephalus taurinus living on the Patacia is still there! We have also discovered a small gecko living on the Clavero (photos below!).

So as this is Sophie’s first time out here we have been getting involved with a few other surveys and trying to spot many different species. As well as the many we have seen during amphibian survey work, we have also been out in canoes dolphin watching, macaw surveys and fishing. This was Sophies first time fishing and she did it in the Amazon, kinda cool I feel, she almost caught a fish! It was on the line and as she pulled it out the water it dropped off the hook, (I caught two)! We also joined the bird mist netting which was good fun and we caught some very cute little birds more photos below. Sophie has been thoroughly enjoying the frog surveys and I would almost go as far as saying she loves them as much as I do… She is getting very involved and can identify many of the frog species which is very impressive due to the huge numbers of species!

So the next part of our adventure is about to begin, we are leaving for Panama City tomorrow/today (depending on time different / when I upload this!). We have a day or two in Panama then we will be getting a coach to Costa Rica where we will be attending a conference at the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Centre. After this we will have two weeks to travel before heading back to Peru! I will upload another blog post when I return to Iquitos before heading back into the jungle.

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