in one of the most biodiverse places on Earth!
The project investigates the impact of the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytritium dendrobatidis (Bd) on montane frogs near Manu National Park, southern Peru, in the eastern slopes of the Andes. The eastern Andes and adjacent foothills in the western Amazon support the largest species richness of amphibians; furthermore mid- and high elevations are rich in endemic species. Bd arrived to southern Peru in the early 2000s and has caused a collapse of species richness and abundance, especially among stream-breeding species such as treefrogs, glass frogs and harlequin toads. We are monitoring population trends and disease dynamics to understand how Bd is able to persist in these amphibian communities following the initial outbreak. Specifically, we are interested in identifying habitats or organisms that function as reservoirs for Bd. Understanding the nature of such reservoirs will direct future conservation efforts aimed at preventing future outbreaks. Moreover, we are isolating symbiotic skin bacteria from individuals that are resistant to chytridiomycosis and testing their anti-fungal properties. We will be testing the effectiveness of inoculating wild frogs with such bacteria as a way to increase their defense against Bd.
Field assistants and interns contribute in many ways to this project, and at levels that are appropriate to their motivation, interest and level of formal education. Past teams have included a wide diversity of participants from members of native communities to graduate students. These are some common activities: field surveys (nocturnal surveys and leaf litter plots), animal husbandry, field and laboratory experiments (ie, infection susceptibility trials, thermal physiology experiments, field enclosures, etc.), recording of environmental data (data loggers, vegetation structure, etc), disease detection (swabbing, DNA extraction, PCR), educational activities (school presentations and field trips). Social/fun activities include enjoying the canopy walkway, birdwatching, orchid-watching, high-altitude soccer, hanging out with the bird people (students and volunteers of the bird project), sauna (Wayqecha only), river bathing (San Pedro and Villa Carmen), going to town, mountain biking down the road (*requires a mountain bike).
The project generally relies on volunteers who can secure funding through their own institutions to join the field team. We can assist students in applying for funds and in serving as advisors/mentors in the field. This year we might be able to cover lodging and meals for some or most participants. Please contact us for details. We can’t provide salaries or stipends.
If you are interested in joining the 2013 field team, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are a group of researchers investigating dramatic declines in amphibian diversity that occurred in one of the largest and best-protected national parks in South America. You can contact us by writing to Alessandro Catenazzi, email@example.com.
Past assistants included undergraduate students from Princeton, UC Berkeley, Gonzaga, Universidad del Cusco, Universidad La Molina, as well as members of the native community of Qeros in the Amazon lowlands. Ask them what they think about their experience!
Lauren Wyman (Princeton): firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Foreyt (Gonzaga): email@example.com
Jacob Finkle (UC Berkeley): firstname.lastname@example.org
Four students have already signed up for the 2013 field season: a master student from Southern Illinois University and undergraduate students from Duke and Princeton. Join them!