Thursday, May 30, 2019

Frogs and habitat quality and why it matters

Urich's frog - Pristimantis urichi (foreground) and Cane toad - Rhinella marina (background). Photo by Rainer Deo
Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are considered habitat generalists whereas Urich's frog, (Pristimantis urichi endemic to Trinidad and Tobago) are habitat specialists - found in forests and at forest edge. The Urich's frog can potentially be used to assess habitat quality with its presence whereas Cane toads can sometimes indicate a relatively disturbed habitat. However, due to the ubiquitous habits of the cane toad, sometimes their paths do cross with forest specialist species. One example can be seen here (photo above) where both species were observed at the Arima Valley in Trinidad, near the William Beebe Research Station (aka Simla).

However, with increasing development, the likelihood of more sightings like these will be limited. As more forest is lost to human disturbance, more forest specialist species will be lost. Frogs have been noted to act as indicators of environmental health, and, also provide health benefits to people such as potentially treating diseases (example diabetes). Not everyone likes frogs, but at the very least, everyone should put effort to protecting them, if not for the benefit of other animals and the environment, but to people health and well-being.

To learn more about these frog species and other local species in Trinidad and Tobago, get your very own copy of the Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago! See more info here.

Monday, May 20, 2019

One of Trinidad's geckos gets a name upgrade

Gonatodes ferrugineus (formerly Ghumeralis) from Trinidad. Photo by Renoir Auguste

Geckos are a group of terrestrial vertebrates that tend to be restricted to small geographic ranges. The exception appears in the genus Gonatodes. One species in particular has a range of over a million square kilometres - Gonatodes humeralis commonly called the spot-nosed gecko. However, given its small size, the likelihood of one single small species spread so far is questionable.

Pinto and colleagues (2019) looked into this and used molecular genetic data to investigate the population genetic structure and species delimitation of this Neotropical dwarf gecko. Based on their findings, there is species-level divergence evidence of the population on Trinidad, compared to South America. As such, Gonatodes ferrugineus was resurrected from synonymy for this population.

This is another example of where further research uncovers findings that are there to be discovered.  These findings provide another update to be edited for the future second edition of the field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago.

Reference
Pinto et al. 2019. Population genetic structure and species delimitation of a widespread Neotropical dwarf gecko. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 133: 54-66.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2018.12.029

Sunday, April 21, 2019

New snake, now a new lizard for Tobago

Tobago appears to have an amazing array of unique animals, when compared to Trinidad. Both islands have species unique to each island. Yet, it appears Tobago has more unique wildlife. The herpetofauna are no exception.

Newly described lizard to Tobago: Bachia whitei. Photo by John C. Murphy


In January 2019, a paper came out describing a new snake species for Tobago.

Now, Tobago also has a new lizard species.

Lizards in the genus Bachia at first glance look like worms or small snakes from afar. However, upon closer inspection, the small limbs can be seen.

Most people probably have never seen a Bachia lizard. This may be due to them mainly living under leaf litter or in the surface of soil. They feed on small invertebrates in the soil, such as termites.

Trinidad and Tobago have at least two species of Bachia. One is astutely named Bachia trinitatis which is found in Trinidad and Tobago. However, Tobago has the second species: Bachia whitei (currently considered an island endemic - found no where else in the world!)

Bachia whitei was named in honour of Graham White - current chairman of the Asa Wright Nature Centre's board, and Editor in chief of the Living World Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club.

Perhaps the easiest way to distinguish between the two species is the shape of the scales on the body. Bachia trinitatis has hex scale patterns, whereas Bachia whitei has square scaled patterns.

To learn more about these lizards, check out the "Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago" which can be bought online if living outside of the country (info here). For those living in Trinidad and Tobago, contact the TTFNC on where you can get a copy.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Poaching of sea turtles in Tobago: Culture, Consumption and Conservation

Hawksbill sea turtle at Castara, Tobago. Photo by Mike Rutherford.

Background
There are five sea turtle species recorded for Trinidad and Tobago: Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) [Murphy et al. 2018]. All five are designated Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) in T&T. Sea turtles face various threats. Some of these include climate change, loss of habitat, pollution (including from artificial light) and poaching/exploitation (Hailey and Cazabon-Mannette 2011). Poaching of sea turtles occurs in Trinidad and Tobago despite the year long legal protection of these ESS.

Aim
In 2018 as part of a Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean programme, I embarked on a venture to acquire current information on the status of poaching of sea turtles in Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, specifically to understand the culture and perception as to why it persists for hopes of improving future conservation management plans for the species to be used by relevant stakeholders.

Method
I spoke with some of the main stakeholders involved in turtle conservation on the island (n=8), including government officials, and non-governmental officials, which included those from turtle patrol groups, and community conservation personnel (where turtle patrol groups were absent from known nesting villages). The objectives were to gain a better understanding of the demand for consuming sea turtles and their eggs.

Results
Poaching is regarded as the main threat to sea turtles on the island, particularly in the north, whereas habitat loss/alteration is regarded as a major threat to sea turtles in the south of the island. This may be unsurprising as the south of the island is more developed and development is continuing to meet the needs of tourism, whereas the north of the island may be considered more rural.

Speaking about the particular species of sea turtles, the hawksbill is perhaps the most exploited of the sea turtles on Tobago. Reason being that it is a preferential choice by the locals to consume the meat of hard shell species compared to the leatherback.  The hawksbill is also a more frequent nesting species in the north of Tobago than the leatherback, whereas the other hard shell species such as the green (nesting females) is less common. The hawksbill is currently regarded as Critically Endangered.

Contributing factors and Challenges:
-turtle meat is viewed as a cultural status (turtle meat is more highly regarded than perhaps chicken or fish);
-food source (one local referred to turtle meat as "sea goat" and says people like how it tastes and it would be difficult to stop eating it);
-lack of financial alternatives (which is an issue among many rural communities);
-lack of financial support for turtle conservation (there are, but perhaps more is needed);
-Lack of enforcement and support from local government (most game wardens only work from 8 am to 5 pm, but sea turtles nest predominantly at night);
-limited legislation (lack of prohibited turtle nesting beaches on Tobago, unlike on Trinidad);
-remoteness of nesting beaches on Tobago (access to monitor and patrol all nesting beaches is already made difficult by lack of resources and finances, but the inability to easily access some beaches is also a problem);
-increased craftiness of poachers (for example, knowing how to avoid persons on patrols and using the latest technology);
-some people that are on beaches monitoring turtles may also be poachers or colleagues of poachers (but with limited persons willing to help out, how does one vet such a situation?);
-lack of awareness/knowledge gap (one official claimed that sea turtles should be eaten to keep their populations in check - although did acknowledge that more data are needed to validate this).


Management measures needed:
-more educational awareness programmes to highlight the importance of sea turtles (and how they help people and boost the economy);
-greater support from the local government;
-patrols on beaches where turtles are known to nest but currently has no monitoring in place (perhaps implement a community plan for those from the community to monitor these beaches?);
-greater financial support, which, is needed to help with all management measures (there can be incentives for conserving these species, which in the long term can not only be beneficial to the turtles, but for ecotourism and the economy of the country);
-designating prohibited areas for high density turtle nesting areas (although perhaps it may seem this may clash with tourism, on the contrary, considering how much money comes in just from people paying to watch sea turtles on Trinidad, this is something that can be followed up on Tobago).

Conclusion
More work is needed. It will require a collaborative effort but most importantly, from people at the local communities. They stand to benefit from having these sea turtles around as do all. This has been reported by Cazabon-Mannette and colleagues (2017) who found that there are significant non-use and non-consumptive values of sea turtles in Tobago, and this highlights the importance of sea turtle conservation efforts in Tobago.  If the the turtles are gone, not only will the marine ecosystem and all the other species (including fish) diminish, but also the local economy.



Leatherback laying eggs. Photo by Renoir Auguste.


References

Cazabon-Mannette, M., Schumann, P.W., Hailey, A., and Horrocks, J. 2017. Estimates of the non-market value of sea turtles in Tobago using stated preference techniques. Journal of environmental management 192: 281-291.

Hailey, A., and Cazabon-Mannette, M. 2011. Conservation of herpetofauna in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Pp 183-217 in Hailey, A., Wilson, B.S., and Horrocks, J.A. (Eds.), Conservation of Caribbean Island Herpetofaunas, Volume 1, Conservation Biology and the Wider Caribbean. Leiden: Brill.

Murphy, J.C., Downie, J.R., Smith, J.M., Livingstone, S.R., Mohammed, R.S., Auguste, R.J., Lehtinen, R.M., Eyre, M., Sewlal, J.N., Noriega, N., Casper, G.S., Anton, T., Thomas, R.A., Rutherford, M.G., Braswell, A.L., and Jowers, M.J. 2018. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago.  Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club. 336 pp

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tadpole cannibalism in Trinidad

Trinidad stream frog (Mannophryne trinitatis) feeding on its conspecific. Photo by Renoir Auguste
The idea of cannibalism brings thoughts of horror movies. Yet, in the animal kingdom it occurs more frequently than we think. Cannibalism appears to offer benefits to animals. Some of these include sources of food in resource poor environments, and reduced development time. However, there are also disadvantages of cannibalism, for example increased risk of disease.

Cannibalism has been recorded in a variety of animals, including frogs. One such frog whereby cannibalism has been observed is the Trinidad stream frog (Mannophryne trinitatis); an island endemic. As the common name suggests, it is found across streams in Trinidad, abundantly across the Northern Range, but also in the Central Range. When mating occurs, the males take the tadpoles on their back and carry them to pools of water, often void of predators for them to develop. Sometimes these pools of water are large. Other times, the pools of water are small, leaving them prone to drying up, especially in the dry season. When this happens, competition for resources among the tadpoles in the pool increases.

An example of potential cannibalism was seen in 2018 (Auguste and Angeli 2018). The tadpoles were observed in a relatively small pool of water with the nearby stream dried up. It was unclear if the tadpole had already died and its conspecifics were feeding on it - or if they attacked it while it was still alive. Nonetheless, why does cannibalism persist with this species? Perhaps with further study one can discern what the contributing factors are. This may then provide insight into adaptations to the quality of habitat and to changing climatic conditions.

Reference


·        Auguste, R.J. and Angeli, N.F. 2018. Field observations of potential cannibalism among tadpoles of the Trinidad stream frog Mannophryne trinitatis (Anura: Aromobatidae). Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club, 2018: 104-105.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Frogs being eaten by spiders

Spider (Ancylometes bogotensis) with its captured frog (Leptodactylus validus) in Trinidad. Photo by Renoir Auguste.


Spiders appear to feed on almost any animal that they can overpower. Although their main prey consists of insects and other invertebrates, they also feed on vertebrates such as mammals and frogs.
Spiders prey on a variety of species of frogs from across the Neotropics, and Trinidad is no exception. These types of predator-prey relationships are rarely encountered in the wild by people. However, when they are observed, it helps add to our knowledge of the natural history and ecology of these animals.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Tracking Trinidad's Treefrogs

Leaf nesting frog (Phyllomedusa trinitatis) from Trinidad. Photo by Renoir Auguste
One of the fundamental aspects of assessing the ecology of an animal, is to track its movement. Often, this is difficult as animals cannot be observed continuously. One way to off set this disadvantage, is with the use of tracking devices. However, tracking methods can have both advantages and disadvantages.

The leaf nesting frog (Phyllomedusa trinitatis) is a frog found in Trinidad and Venezuela (Murphy et al. 2018). An evaluation study on tracking the movement of this species was undertaken at Simla, in the Arima Valley in Trinidad (Gourevitch and Downie 2018). Tracking devices consisted of (1) harness made of cotton with bobbins, and (2) radio-tags. Observations on the frogs were conducted in lab and in the field.

Twenty-six frogs were assessed, with 16 of these successfully tracked. Both methods presented challenges. However, the locations of where the 16 frogs (1 female and 15 males) rest during the day were revealed and gives greater insight to the habitat use of these frogs. Further, the female that was tracked appeared to move further away from the breeding pool than the males. Though both tracking methods appear to not work perfectly for Phyllomedusa trinitatis, the study emphasizes the need to test out tracking methods on different species in their respective habitats.


Citations:

Gourevitch, E.H.Z., and Downie, .J.R. 2018. An evaluation of of tree frog tracking methods using Phyllomedusa trinitatis (Anura: Phyllomedusidae). Phyllomedusa: Journal of Herpetology 17: 233-246.

Murphy, J.C., Downie, J.R., Smith, J.M., Livingstone, S.R., Mohammed, R.S., Auguste, R.J., Lehtinen, R.M., Eyre, M., Sewlal, J.N., Noriega, N., Casper, G.S., Anton, T., Thomas, R.A., Rutherford, M.G., Braswell, A.L., and Jowers, M.J. 2018. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago.  Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club. 336 pp.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The elusive and important freshwater turtles of Trinidad


One of three native freshwater turtles on Trinidad: Gibba turtle (Mesoclemmys gibba) Photo by Renoir Auguste.

Trinidad and Tobago are well known for the nesting marine turtles along the coasts. There have been numerous conservation efforts to highlight their importance thanks to local community groups, and international bodies. Typically, when a local person thinks of 'turtle' the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) might usually come to mind more often than any other. However, Trinidad has three native freshwater species of turtles. Surprisingly, not many people are aware of these three turtles’ existence on Trinidad. 

The first of the three native species is perhaps currently the most commonly encountered: The Galap or painted wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys punctularia) from the family Geomyididae. This family is the most species rich family of turtles globally with about 75 species recorded. They are represented with species across Europe, Asia, Africa and Central and South America. The Galap is the sole species from the family here. Individuals grow to an average size of about 20 cm. They can be identified by having red blotches on the crown of their head, yellow reticulations near the ear, and yellow or red spotted scales on the forelimbs. The Galap appears to be mainly found in south Trinidad with populations north centrally as well. Their habitat mainly consists of ponds or streams in forests, and can also be found at road side ditches. They are omnivores, and are known to act as seed disperses as they feed on fruits thus contributing to plant growth which benefits plants, other animals, and humans. 
Galap (Rhinoclemmys punctularia) feeding on fruit in south Trinidad. Photo by Renoir Auguste

The second of the three native freshwater turtles is the scorpion mud turtle (Kinosternon scorpioides) from the family Kinosternidae. This family has 25 species and are restricted to the western hemisphere. The scorpion mud turtle is the sole species on Trinidad currently, although subfossil remains hints at another species once being here. They grow to about 27 cm. The turtle can be identified by their domed carapace (shell) which varies from light brown to olive, with a brown-yellow head. They appear to be distributed across the south and northern basins of Trinidad; similar to the Galap. They may be found in temporary or permanent freshwater habitats, roadside ditches, and stream impoundments surrounded by forests. Although it may be relatively common, they are not always commonly seen and this may be because they bury themselves in the bottom of the pond or stream where they reside when it dries up, or are almost always under water when wet. Like the other two species they are nocturnal but may be active during the day. They are predominantly carnivores feeding on insects, molluscs, crustaceans, fish, frogs, worms, and mammals, but will consume algae and plant matter, including fruits thus also making them potential seed disperses.
Scorpion mud turtle (Kinosternon scorpioides) from central Trinidad. Photo by Rainer Deo

The third native freshwater turtle species is perhaps the rarest on the island and rarely encountered: the Gibba turtle or side neck turtle (Mesoclemmys gibba) from the family Chelidae. There are about 53 species restricted to Central and South America. They are able to move their necks sideways into the shell (hence the common name). All are highly aquatic with the capacity to stay submerged for long periods of time. The Gibba turtle grows to about 30 cm. They can be identified by having a wide and flattened head with two barbles on the chin, dark brown or black carapace or shell and extensive webbing in the feet. Very little is known about this species locally. Previous literature suggests it is an uncommon lowland species. A survey published in 2010 found that they were restricted to the South Oropouche catchment based on anecdotal evidence from locals. However, as of 2018, individuals have been spotted by myself not far from the Aripo Savannas Scientific Reserve which is designated an Environmentally Sensitive Area in Trinidad. Like the other two species, they prefer areas with stagnant waters in forests, however with closed canopy. This suggests they would be susceptible and sensitive to habitat alteration. They are also nocturnal and are omnivores: also feeding on fruits like the other two species.
Gibba turtle (Mesoclemmys gibba) from northern Trinidad. Photo by Renoir Auguste


Given the high precedent to marine turtle conservation, these three freshwater turtles should also be considered for priority conservation in Trinidad. They are an important component of the local fauna and ecosystems because of their seed dispersing capabilities and varied diet. They also comprise an important component of freshwater ecosystems. Greater effort towards learning more about their ecology is needed, which would not only benefit the local population of turtles but the freshwater ecosystems where they reside, other wildlife, and people.




Murphy, J.C., Downie, J.R., Smith, J.M., Livingstone, S.R., Mohammed, R.S., Auguste, R.J., Lehtinen, R.M., Eyre, M., Sewlal, J.N., Noriega, N., Casper, G.S., Anton, T., Thomas, R.A., Rutherford, M.G., Braswell, A.L., and Jowers, M.J. 2018. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago.  Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club. 336 pp.




Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The frog Leptodactylus nesiotus is no longer endemic to Trinidad

Leptodactylus nesiotus from Trinidad. Photo by Renoir Auguste.


As of 2014, the island of Trinidad was known to have four species of endemic frogs: Trinidad stream frog Mannophryne trinitatis, Urich's litter frog Pristimantis urichi, Golden tree frog Phytotriades auratus and Trinidad thin-toed frog Leptodactylus nesiotus

In 2015, there were now three endemic species after the discovery of the Golden tree frog (Phytotriades auratus) in Venezuela (Rivas and de Freitas 2015). Now, at the end of 2018, the number of endemic frog species is down to two after Leptodactylus nesiotus were discovered in the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana), South America.

The Trinidad thin-toed frog (Leptodactylus nesiotus) is a member of the Leptodactylus melanotus group. They are known from swampy areas in south west Trinidad and also from the Nariva Swamp. Jairam and Fouquet (2018) reported on specimens occurring along coastal savannas and swamps on mainland South America, along the Guianas. Given the very wide distribution and continuity of habitat, the authors suggest that specimens of L. nesiotus may have been mistaken for L. validus or other species of the L. melanotus group. They also suggest that specimens are also likely to occur in Venezuela and may even occur in Colombia and Brazil. 

Little is known about the biology of the species from Trinidad and prior to its discovery in South America, it was given the IUCN Red List Status of Vulnerable. With an extension of greater than 1000 km, perhaps the status of Vulnerable now needs to be reassessed to Least Concern. 

It is unsurprising that L. nesiotus is not an island endemic to Trinidad, especially given its main population in south western Trinidad is less than 20 km from Venezuela. Also, in Trinidad, the species has been observed to live alongside L. validus. Perhaps further investigations of other endemics may reveal a much wider distribution, which further highlights the biogeographical link to the Trinidad and South America fauna.


Literature Cited

Rivas, G. and de Freitas,M. 2015. Discovery of the critically endangered Golden tree frog Phytotriades auratus (Boulenger, 1917), in eastern Venezuela, with comments on its distribution, conservation, and biogeography. Herpetological Review 46: 153-157.

Jairam, R. and Fouquet, A. 2018. First records of Leptodactylus nesiotus (Anura: Leptodactylidae) for Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Herpetology Notes 11: 997-999.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Reviews for the Trinidad and Tobago Herpetofauna Field Guide


In 1997, John Murphy's book covered an account of the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago; the only one at the time covering both amphibians and reptiles of the country. Two decades later, this first field guide edition to the herpetofauna of the country was published which provides an update on its predecessor. It features updated information on species, along with name changes and some new species. The book was published by the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club (Founded 1891) and can be bought locally in most leading bookstores as well as internationally from the club's website, see link here.  To date, international orders for the field guide have come from the US, UK, Germany, France, Israel, Sweden, and Guadeloupe.

Two international reviews have come out for the book this year. One in The Herpetological Bulletin, and one in Herpetological Review. The following are some direct comments from the reviews:


Suzanne Simpson, Hadlow College, Hadlow, Tonbridge, Kent, TN11 0AL, UK.


Herpetological Bulletin 144, 2018: 34-35.

"This field guide is a user-friendly, detailed, step-by-step guide to the herpetofauna of Trinidad and Tobago. It breaks down into multiple sections with an easy to use index at the back for readers who want to just look at a few species. Anyone interested in amphibians and reptiles could pick up this book and enjoy the pictures and information. At the price it is excellent value for money."

Robert Powell, Department of Biology, Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri 64145, USA

Herpetological Review 2018, 49(3) 561-563.

"This is an outstanding, educational, and entertaining overview of a complex insular herpetofauna. Sufficiently detailed and documented to meet the needs of professionals but adequately straight-forward and not too technical to serve readers using it solely as a means to identify species they encounter during a visit to the islands. This excellent guide is a must for the libraries of herpetologists with an interest in insular herpetofauna and for the backpacks of any naturalist fortunate enough to experience Trinidad and Tobago."

Cost to order online is $42. USD ($290. TTD) which includes the cost of postage. For further information on how you can order a copy, please email admin@ttfnc.org. For local purchases, contact the club for additional information.

Citation for the Field guide:
Murphy, J.C., Downie, J.R., Smith, J.M., Livingstone, S.R., Mohammed, R.S., Auguste, R.J., Lehtinen, R.M., Eyre, M., Sewlal, J.N., Noriega, N., Casper, G.S., Anton, T., Thomas, R.A., Rutherford, M.G., Braswell, A.L., and Jowers, M.J. 2018. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago.  Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club. 336 pp.





Monday, November 19, 2018

Herpetofauna results from the Toco Bioblitz

Bioblitz results. Photo by Renoir Auguste

The seventh annual Bioblitz of Trinidad and Tobago came and went. The amphibian and reptile group which consisted of two main groups; one from the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club and the other by Serpentarium observed 37 species over the weekend. These 37 species consisted of 13 species of amphibians, 11 lizards, 11 snakes, one crocodilian and one sea turtle.

Although we wished that all 37 observations were of herpetofauna living in the wild, this was not the case. The one sea turtle observed was a green sea turtle carcass with shell on nearby beach. With some parts of the turtle still in the shell, it was uncertain as to what may have caused its demise. It would be a shame if this was an act of poaching by people in the area. Sea turtles are still poached in Trinidad and Tobago despite year-long legal protection. The Serpentarium also observed a roadkill snake (Leptophis  coeruleodorsus).

Perhaps the most notable amphibian sighting was that of the narrow-mouth frog Elachistocleis sp. These explosive breeders are difficult to spot unless they are out calling in abundance, but we managed to spot one not too far from the coastline in secondary forest type vegetation.

Elachistocleis sp. Photo by Rainer Deo

Although we did not spot any rare or elusive reptiles, seeing four Bothrops along a single trail at Cumana on the same night was very notable. One local in the area did mention to us that there are many "Mapepire Balsains" (the local common name for Bothrops) along the trail, and he did not exaggerate. The four individuals were all observed along the side of the trail and were all estimated to be about two to four feet (60 to 120 cm) long. Considering we saw four, there is a great likelihood that there are more individuals in the area nearby.

Special thanks to all the volunteers that came out and especially Rainer Deo for the photos. The full list of species observed at the Bioblitz will be made available in the final report and will be shared here when it is compiled and completed.

Bothrops sp. Photo by Rainer Deo

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Trinidad and Tobago's 7th annual Bioblitz goes to Toco in 2018


Bioblitz is a 24 hour event where scientists, naturalists and members of the public all come together to collect, identify and record as many species of fungi, plant and animal in a certain area. It is an opportunity for the public to see scientists at work and allows scientists to share their knowledge with others. It can also promote an area and showcase the biodiversity to be found there. 

This year will be the seventh edition and the chosen location is Toco to take place on 17-18 November. Toco is located in north east Trinidad and represents a portion of the island that has not been covered yet for the 24 hour event. It represents an area that covers a portion of the Northern Range forest as well as coastal ecosystems. The base camp will be the Toco Regional Complex. The main organizers for the Bioblitz are once again the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club in collaboration with The University of the West Indies Zoology Museum (UWIZM). This year as in past editions, it is sponsored by First Citizens. 

Given that there are proposed works to build a port in the area, these surveys offer a baseline of the biodiversity that are likely to be impacted by the work. What species of reptiles and amphibians are likely to be found in the area and how many? Perhaps something rare or new? Stay tuned to find out next week!