Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 Trinidad Bioblitz is fast approaching, herpetology participants please read the following

The third annual T&T Bioblitz, taking place this year in and around Nariva Swamp, is coming up on the 18th-19th October. 

On the 18th and 19th October wildlife experts and enthusiasts will be taking part in the third annual T&T Bioblitz. This year it is being held in Nariva Swamp and the plan is to try and record as many different species of plants, animals and other organisms as possible within 24 hours. The event is being organized by Mike Rutherford, the curator of the UWI Zoology Museum, in partnership with the T&T Field Naturalists’ Club, Forestry Division and many other groups. The experts start surveying on Saturday 18th at noon and then work through the night before inviting the public along on the Sunday morning to go on guided tours, see science in action and learn more about the local wildlife. Come along and join in!

The Bioblitz in Nariva provides an opportunity to confirm the presence of some interesting animals.

At the top of the list is the matamata turtle. There has been considerable speculation about an established population on Trinidad. Finding one in Nariva would support that idea, but they are very difficult to see and totally aquatic – so the freshwater group may want to keep an eye out for them also. It’s more likely one will turn up in a seine while looking for fish, than someone will actually see one in the water. Other turtles are also of interest and I would encourage people who find them to hang on to them long enough to get positive IDs and photos.

Similarly, it is likely the herp group or the freshwater group will find the totally aquatic frog Pipa pipa. I have not seen these recently, but saw them in abundance in the 1980’s in the southwest portion of the island. Museum and literature records support their presence in Nariva. Collecting one for photos and tissue would be valuable.

Another high priority species is the semi-aquatic lizard, Kentropyx striata, they are present in the Nariva area, I saw one 2012. But they are buggers to catch. When approached they quickly dive into the water, but you will see them sitting in bushes and on logs. Again, collecting one for photos and tissue would be very valuable. Note they look very much like a Cnemidophorus, but Cnemidophorus do not go into the water.

Other high priority species for photos, specimens, and tissues: Polychrus marmoratus (one specimen from Bush-Bush looks quite distinct from those of the Northern Range), Tupinambis teguixin, Hydrops triangularis, Erythrolamprus (Liophis) cobellus, Clelia clelia, Drymarchon corais, Spilotes sulphureus and of course any of the worm snakes. And, let’s not forget anoles, skinks and frogs, interesting specimen may turn up.

It is unlikely we will find crocodiles, river turtles or aquatic caecilians but you never know! Seeing an anaconda is likely so keep your camera’s ready.

Oh, yes, don’t forget road kills. Please pick them up, they are great for voucher specimens and DNA even if they are super flat.

You can find more on the T&T Bioblitz Facebook page

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