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Research

In depth information available by viewing our Trinidad 2012 Expedition Prospectus, however below is a breif outline of each main project.

Amphibian behaviour and reproductive ecology – Prof. Roger Downie has been studying this area for over 20 years. The 2012 team shall be following up on previous year’s work, including some of the following areas:

  • Competitive interactions between tadpoles of Leptodactylus fuscus and Physalaemus pustulosusThis project has been attempted a few times but there has been difficulties in securing reliable data, so we aim to continue this work in 2012.
  • Behaviour and escape responses of Pseudis paradoxa tadpoles. These tadpoles can reach over 10cm! Photos coming soon!
  • Phyllomedusa trinitatis adult reproductive behaviour and tadpole development. The adult frogs mate and wrap their eggs in a leaf, generally overhanging a pool of water. The mating process and tadpole development will be observed.
  • Comparative frog foam composition of Physalaemus pustulosusThis species whips up a foam nest with its hind legs. The foam has some interesting properties, which the team will investigate with the help from Prof. Malcolm Kennedy.
  • Escape responses of the stream frog Mannophryne trinitatisThese little frogs are active during the day and have very interesting behaviours in predator avoidance, especially because the males carry their tadpoles on their back!
  • Metamorph development in  tree-frog species. Species have different modes of life, and it is important for froglets to reach safety once they have metamorphosed. We will continue a study, which has been carried out the last two summers, to concur with our previous findings.

Endangered species surveying.  There are 5 frog species from Trinidad on IUCN’s Red List. These species are threatened by many things, such as habitat loss, fragmentation and derogation, climate change and rising CO2 levels, human impact of many forms, and possibly the fungal infection chitrid. It is important to understand why any species is being threatened, but is important to note that species do naturally go extinct. But as mentioned, many species worldwide are threatened by human impact, such as logging, which is unsettling. In 2012 the team will investigate Trinidadian specie’s threats, and survey populations. By using GPS mapping, sound recording, and transects (and other methods), the team aim to get a better idea of what endangered species are where on the island.

John C. Murphy’s “Amphibians and Reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago” book is in the process of being updated. Previous GU Expeditions have helped with research which will go towards the new book; improving taxonomy and adding information regarding juvenile stages of amphibians, which was not included in the original version. The 2012 team shall continue aiding in the research and field work needed to contribute to this much needed update. You can check out John’s work, and learn more about the work he does.

Lizard Behaviour and Ecology – last year’s Expedition got the wheels rolling on introducing reptile research into the work carried out by future teams. A small pilot study was carried out; testing methodology. In 2012 the team aim to look at lizard behaviour and ecology more closely; having evolved ideas.

Marine Turtle Conservation is carried out worldwide, and the GU Trinidad Expeditions have been involved in such work for many years  now. Last year the team aided in the monitoring of laying females, hatchling success, and beach clean up at Fishing Pond (east coast). This year the team will build on the relationship made with locals that work at Fishing Pond and focus on female behaviour, with observations recording entire egg laying process.

Dung beetles may seem disgusting to some, as they do feed on poo hahaha. They can also live in it, and can even use it as a brooding chambers! But they are vital to the ecology of many different habitats, especially to agricultural land. By consuming dung, and overturning soil, nutrient levels are improved and left over dung, which could attract parasites, is cleared away 🙂 …Dung beetles have never been looked at during a GU Trinidad Expedition, and the team are very much looking forward in using bated traps (yes, traps bated with poo haha), and looking at the diversity within species and amongst species, found in different habitats.

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