Monday, June 13, 2022
Friday, May 27, 2022
Sunday, January 2, 2022
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
|Drawf marsupial frog (Flectonotus fitzgeraldi) female with eggs on back. Photo by Renoir Auguste|
The dwarf marsupial frog is a small frog found in Trinidad, Tobago and Venezuela. It is a forest specialist species usually found in vegetation with closed canopy and near streams. They are called Marsupial frogs because the females carry their eggs in a pouch on their back, like the marsupials from Australia (that have the pouch by their belly).
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2004 regarded the dwarf marsupial frog as endangered. That status remained unchanged for 16 years. However, a team of researchers from Trinidad, Venezuela, UK, EU, & US compiled biological data done on the species in its respective range which provided important information for its conservation. Based on the surveys, the frog was found to be widely distributed across Trinidad, northeast Tobago and northeastern Venezuela. As such, the group, lead by professor Roger Downie from Glasgow University suggested that the conservation status be downgraded from Endangered to Least Concern.
This is an important milestone for this species based on the updated information provided by this study. However, further studies on number of individuals in its range are needed to continuously monitor the species, as it can potentially revert to its more threatened status because of climate change, habitat alteration and diseases because of its very specific habitat requirements.
Smith, J., Jowers, M.J., Auguste, R.J., Hoskisson, P., Beyts, C., Muir, G., Greener, M.S., Thornham, D., Byrne, I., Lehtinen, R., Eyre, M., Rutherford, M.G., Murphy, J.C., De Freitas, M., Rivas G.A., and Downie, J.R. 2021. The distribution and conservation status of the dwarf marsupial frog (Flectonotus fitzgeraldi) in Trinidad, Tobago and Venezuela. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 15(1): 36-56.
Link to paper here: http://amphibian-reptile-conservation.org/pdfs/Volume/Vol_15_no_1/ARC_15_1_[General_Section]_36-56_e273.pdf
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Saturday, May 8, 2021
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
|Mourning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris). Photo by Adam Fifi|
Among exotic reptiles, lizards are the most abundant group introduced to new regions, and even to different countries. One particular group of lizards seem to drift far away from their native countries - Geckoes! No doubt, human facilitation through movement of goods and people have aided in the distribution of animals, including lizards.
Trinidad and Tobago has had at least a half a dozen lizards introduced to the country. Most of these have been Anolis lizards (at least 6 species). However geckoes are about halfway behind with at least 3 new species to the country. One of these is the mourning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris). The gecko was first reported on the citizen science application iNaturalist, and have subsequently been found by others across the country. This short natural history note documents their distribution in the scientific literature for the first time, and commends the efforts of persons that took photos and uploaded to iNaturalist.
If you don't use or are familiar with iNaturalist, it is highly recommended. Who knows, maybe you may photograph an animal in the country and it turns out to be a new record for the country!
Auguste, R.J., Fifi, A. 2020. Additional record of the invasive mourning gecko Lepidodactylus lugubris (Duméril and Bibron, 1836) from Trinidad and Tobago, with comments on citizen science observations. Herpetology Notes 13: 1111-1112 (link to pdf of paper here)
|Black-headed snake (Tantilla melanocephala). Photo by Renoir Auguste|
Previous studies have shown that some widespread species are in fact cryptic species - or species that resemble each other superficially, but are actually two or more different species. This aspect can have serious implications towards conservation of species, as each species has their own unique traits. Thus, studies examining the cryptic diversity in species is important for conservation management.
The black-headed snake (Tantilla melanocephala) is a widespread snake found across Central, and South America. It is also found on Trinidad and Tobago and southern Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. A recent study examined the genetic materials and morphology of specimens from T&T and compared them to northern South American individuals. It was found that the populations on T&T are related to those on Venezuela - which is a common trait among many other species. Further studies are needed, but this one sets a landmark foundation to examine other individuals from across its range.
Jowers, M.J., Rivas, G.A., Jadin, R.C., Braswell, A.L., Auguste, R.J., Borzée, A., and Murphy, J.C. 2020. Unravelling the species diversity of a cryptozoic snake, Tantilla melanocephala, in its northern distribution with emphasis to the colonization of the Lesser Antilles. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 14(3): 206-217 (pdf here)