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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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