Notes from the Field – Peru

Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Amphibians Marcy Sieggreen is doing fieldwork in Peru, studying amphibians in the lower elevations of the Amazon River to see how they are faring with increased human populations and impacts in their habitats.

Hola amigas y amigos!

Alas, my work this season is almost completed, today is my last day in the rainforest. Since my last post, I ran into staff from the Detroit Zoological Society education department, who were in Peru for the Adopt-a-School program, and who assisted in an overnight adventure with the amphibian club. We all spent the night at a research station where we were able to enjoy an evening walk through the jungle looking for amphibians, the canopy walkway and the next day a morning walk back to the boats. We saw salamanders, several species of frogs and they have been very busy with their observations while I was back in the states.

Marcy - rainforest     Marcy - canopy rainforest

During November, the season begins where the rain becomes heavier and frequent, almost daily. This is when the rivers start to rise. Since I landed in Peru the river has already had a noticeable increase. However, one of the many lakes we visit in high water was still dry enough we could walk to it.

Last night, we traveled by boat to the edge of the narrow stream to hike to the place called Lorenzo Lake. This is one area that we monitor twice a year and expect to see hundreds of amphibians and calls that are nearly deafening. We were not expecting to see so many of the giant hunting ants (locals call bullet ants for the pain they inflict when they bite), we had to be especially careful passing brush from the narrow path carved out by our machete. Many scorpions and beautiful moths plagued the long hike to lake, but the calls we could hear before we docked could even dock the boat. It was a beautiful night!

– Marcy Sieggreen

Greenprint: Three Stars for Arctic Café

Beth Wallace is the Manager of Sustainability for the Detroit Zoological Society.

The Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Café has earned a three star-rating from the Green Restaurant Association!

To achieve this recognition, our partners 073at Service Systems Associates revitalized an older building into a green paradise by incorporating more eco-friendly practices, from increasing our organic food options and managing water usage with low-flow features to using cutlery made from potato starch and soybean oil and upgrading to energy-efficient heating and cooling.

Green RestaurantThe Arctic Café is one of only a handful of zoo restaurants in the country to obtain this green certification, and we’re already well on our way to achieving the fourth and final star.

Changes we made in the Artic Café that you can make at home:

  • Energy Efficiency: Change 106out incandescent lighting to CFL or LED to decrease your energy usage and save money on your monthly bills.
  • Water Efficiency: Cut your water use in half by adding low-flow screens to your current water fixtures or, as you replace old systems, upgrade to all low-flow water fixtures.
  • Reduction in Waste: Contact your local curbside collection company, or your landlord, to see what kind of recycling and compost services they offer. Sometimes companies will add additional options once they hear customers have interest.
  • Sustainable Food: Consider locally grown and organic foods first. This helps the local economy and minimizes your carbon footprint.

080Are there things you’ve already done in your home to lessen your environmental footprint? Tell us your experience; was it what you expected, surprisingly easy or a big money saver?

Learn more about our green journey.

– Beth Wallace

Notes From the Field – Peru

Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Amphibians Marcy Sieggreen is doing fieldwork in Peru, studying amphibians in the lower elevations of the Amazon River to see how they are faring with increased human populations and impacts in their habitats.

Hola mi amigas y amigos!

It has been nearly over a week since my last post and a lot has happened. We have seen several species of frogs at night. There has not been much activity during the day but it is still important to look and make note of what is or is not seen. We have travelled to all of the islands that we usually observe that are surrounded by the Napo but have also found another uninhabited island that is underwater during most of the year.

Marcy - Peru 2      Marcy - Peru

What a pleasure it was to jump out off the boat and find hard sand (like what we know as a beach) with marine toads everywhere. Some of you may have heard that these toads are now found in several places in the world and are considered invasive species, making them a nuisance. Here in South America, they are native and an important part of the ecosystem. Since I had not seen many on this trip, I had a growing concern. The island also had a bog that was home to several tree frogs. There were no species I had not seen before but a positive confirmation that species I would expect to see I had.

I have seen many caimans, snakes and most recently a mammal, which I believed to be a Paca. Animals this size (about the size of a 30 lb dog) is not frequently seen and is very fast. Although amphibians are the most fun to track down, seeing other wildlife is always a treat.

This upcoming week, I will be working with our Amphibian Protectors Club on an overnight observation through a small portion of the rainforest and along the canopy walkway.  My colleagues from the Detroit Zoological Society’s education department are taking time out from their schedule to join us. We are hoping to be able to see lots of animals and document our findings back at the research station. Buenos noches!

– Marcy Sieggreen

Notes from the Field – Peru

Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Amphibians Marcy Sieggreen is in Peru, studying amphibians in the lower elevations of the Amazon River to see how they are faring with increased human populations and impacts in their habitats.

Hola mi amigas y amigos!

Greetings from the rainforest! Since this is a new blog, let me explain a little of what the Detroit Zoological Society is doing in Peru. We have several projects that occur in the lower elevations of the Amazon River and its tributaries. My part is monitoring the stability of amphibians in this area and more recently looking how climate change impacts species vulnerability.

Marcy Blog 4

I also work with a community that helps monitor what is going on while we are at home. “Anfibios de Club de Protectores” or “Amazon Amphibian Protectors Club” is a group of 15 kids and two professors that showed a great interest in learning about and doing what they can to raise interest in amphibians. Planes, bus, a boat ride and then here, which is off of a tributary of the Napo River.

Woke up with another day in paradise! This morning I started to plot transects that I will use for amphibian surveys, same areas as I do each year but still need to scope them out. I only saw a handful of toads that the locals all call leaf mimics. They are different species but all resemble leaves and get lumped into that category. After several hours on foot, I caught up with a boat driver that took me across the Napo to another smaller lake.

Marcy Blog 3

Since the water is lower right now we drove up to a sandbar and as I jumped out of the boat into what resembled quicksand, I saw many toadlets (juvenile toads after metamorphosis) hopping away. Getting “unstuck” was challenging. My afternoon was spent bush-wacking with a machete to La Cocha Loca and walking along the Yarina Trail. Locals call it “Crazy Lake” because you never know what you will see. Last year we saw juvenile electric eels and this year we were told caimans, we’ll find out when we come back tomorrow night. Not too many amphibians during the day though however had some other wonderful finds.

Marcy Blog 1 - small

Evenings are the most productive so we headed out shortly after we had something to eat. We took a boat to another island on the other side of the river that we routinely monitor. As expected, we saw many beautiful treefrogs. We were rained out shortly after 1 a.m., so time to call it quits (metal boat across large river in a lightning storm could be a disaster). Buenas noches!

– Marcy Sieggreen