fieldwork

In October and November, we visited the Illimani region for field work. Based in Totoral, a small village close to the type locality, we searched the whole region for frogs… and with success! We found Psychrophryenella specimens on several locations, including the type locality. We believe that all of these are P. illimani, but with tremendous variation in coloration.

Several males were vocalizing during day and night and we recorded calls from different localities. Multiple males were also found attending an egg clutch. This group of frogs has terrestrial eggs and direct development, meaning that the larval development takes place entirely inside the egg. These egg clutches were found under stones or in mosses, providing shelter. To see what effect this sheltering has and to get some basic understanding of the climatic variables in this species’ habitat, we placed some data loggers, collecting temperature and relative humidity every hour. We placed two of them below stones next to egg clutches, to compare these data with the outside environment.

While working in this region, we quickly found out that gold mining is the main source of income. During the process of gold extraction, the toxic mercury is used and subsequently dumped in the rivers, polluting the environment. We hope to do some testing of this in the near future.

Besides the threat of mining, we also had a look at habitat destruction and we swabbed several animals to look for chytrid fungus. If you don’t know about this, you can find some more information here (link).

In the next few months, we will be offering some workshops about conservation in the local communities and we will continue gathering data about this amazing species.

Below some pictures [(c) Bert Willaert] of our fieldwork.

BW3_ 6300the region

BW3_ 7390P. illimani inside wet mosses.

BW3_ 5956a male guarding an egg clutch

BW3_ 6228volunteer Gabi swabbing a frog for Chytrid

BW3_ 7193a beautiful, light colored P. illimani.

BW3_ 6117lunch during a day in the field

BW3_ 6125a datalogger placed with an egg clutch

BW3_ 7459extracted gold

BW3_ 7598another color morph of P. illimani.

BW3_ 6214habitat destruction

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