lunes, 20 de octubre de 2014

Conservation Needs Assessment of the Amphibians of Bolivia

Bolivia is a mega-diverse country holding a large percentage of the world’s biodiversity. This richness contrasts with a relatively poor understanding of its biodiversity and as in many South American countries, a lack of economical resources. Disturbingly, a number of high priority sites for amphibian conservation, even within protected areas, require immediate conservation action, and many of these areas appear to be under increasing threats from over harvesting, exotic species and habitat degradation.

The Conservation Needs Assessment for the amphibians of Bolivia brought together sixteen amphibian field biologists from around Bolivia, representing eight different museums, universities, zoos and Non-governmental organizations. The three-day assessment workshop was hosted by the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d'Orbigny in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and was facilitated by Kevin Johnson from the Amphibian Ark (AArk).

During the workshop, all 265 amphibian species found in Bolivia were assessed and prioritized for the most urgent conservation actions required to ensure their ongoing survival in the wild. These 265 species include 16 that are listed in the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, 16 Endangered, 25 Vulnerable, 5 Near Threatened, 185 Least Concern and 18 Data Deficient. Eighty-eight of the species (33%) are endemic to Bolivia, and of these 45 species are considered to be threatened.

This project was developed thanks to the support of CBOT Endangered Species Fund, Amphibian Ark, and the support of Bolivian amphinian initiative and Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d;Orbigny and Museo Nacional de Historia Natural

sábado, 16 de noviembre de 2013

A rediscovery of one critically endangered frog

Psychrophrynella illimani a critically endangered species
Psychrophrynella Illimani is one critically endangered species that is present just in Bolivia, it was found in 2002 and described in 2009 with just a couple of individuals, since 2002 were different attempts to find more individuals in the area, but it was not possible to find more individuals. In 2013 Jampatu project with Bolivian amphibian initiative together with the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny organized an strategy to try to find this species and also to try to obtain new locations and also information about natural history of this very poorly known species.
a male taking care of the offspring
For this purpose in August we went for the first time to the area to talk with local communities and to present the project, since then we were able to go back every month and now after a couple of months working in the area with a joint team we have news!
variation in coloration of the species
We found the species in the area! Not just that, we found more locations where the species is present and also we got a lot of data about the natural history of the species.

Now after some work with the species we have more data but also more questions and we plan to keep working with this joint project to try to understand and to work with local communities for the threatened amphibians of Bolivia.

P. illimani in the type locality

domingo, 20 de octubre de 2013

High Andean Amphibian Course

Activities in groups for the course

Just one week ago finished the 3rd high Andean amphibian course in Sorata, Bolivia. This was a great opportunity to join enthusiastic people working and with the desire to work with amphibians. It was a great experience where we did not just shared our knowledge together with the Jampatu project, but also it was an opportunity to talk and to start a network of people working for amphibians in different parts not just from Bolivia but also from other countries such as Peru and Argentina.
Activities outside
We had this time the support for different amphibian researchers with a lot of experience working in Bolivia, they helped us with very interesting lectures that gave the participants a wide idea of the amphibian work.
working with frogs
learning new tools for amphibian work

We also learned a lot from the people that were able to participate in this course and of course it was an experience that charged our batteries to work with amphibian conservation.

Learning about water quality
and more activities to learn about conservation work
This kind of courses we are developing once a year and we are looking forward to join more new people that want to work with amphibians.

The 3rd High Andean Amphibian Conservation course participants

lunes, 26 de agosto de 2013

field work with amphibians

Visit to the area of a critically endangered frog (Psychrophrynella illimani)
Obtaining data in different seasons is important to understand the natural history and habitat requirements of the different species of amphibians. These changes can have an important effect in amphibians, not just temperature change but also water quality during the rainy season can change a lot, structure of water bodies or presence of water also can change. 
Habitat of Psychrophrynella illimani a critically endangered frog

The strategies of the different species are also different and those things we want to study. We are already going to several sites in Bolivia to understand better these changes.

obtaining data of the habitat of one aquatic frog (Telmatobius sp.)
We found that some of the streams can change a lot in the hardness and alkalinity but some others do not change at all. In some areas one can find streams covered with ice, but tadpoles and frogs still active in the bottom of the stream. We also are starting to use some tools to understand better the species using underwater cameras, data loggers and others that provide us information that will be very useful for the future.

Tadpoles of Telmatobius sp. in one stream of the Bolivian Andes

sábado, 15 de junio de 2013

High Andean Amphibian Conservation Course 2013

Now we organize for October 2013 the High Andean Amphibian Conservation Course that will be carried out in Sorata Bolivia. for more information please visit us at:

Do not forget the deadline is July 10.

lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

Problems with a critically endangered frog

A Titicaca water frog (Telmatobius culeus) in the rocks

Once again we went back to Titicaca Lake to work, This time to monitor the critically endangered Titicaca Water frog Telmatobius culeus and to take samples of Chytridium  for the project that we are involved and to obtain data about this species. We worked with our team of students and volunteers during several days, this allowed us to obtain more data from different sites. We found some sites with very few individuals but also other with several. With this research we try to obtain data about where are the best populations in the lake.

trapping frogs in the lake to take Chytrid samples

A very shocking finding was that in some localities we found several dead individuals, in one locality we found almost 50% of the individuals dead; it was impressing to find just dead frogs and several individuals that were dying.
one of our sites with dead frogs

We would like to know what is the problem. For this reason we request the help from people, universities or laboratories that can help us with this, to try to find out the cause, to be able to act now in a correct way to avoid more problems.
more dead frogs in the lake
We hope that this is an isolated case and that the problem will not expand. We have some time, we can do things and we can try to work with this problem together.

Conservation projects together

Meeting of different projects 
To share experiences with different projects from different places of Bolivia and Peru was one of our last activities, this time with the Rufford Small Grants, our main supporter that organized a meeting of their different projects in both countries, it was a great opportunity to learn about other projects and also to learn how can we improve our work to have a better impact. Due that this meeting was carried out in Titicaca lake we took the advantage to take the group to one of our study sites and we were able to show them the work that we carry out and also one of the species we work with.
Visit of different projects to our studysite

It was also an opportunity to involve more the local community in the project and also in that way they realize that there are more conservationists working with endangered animals and that their role as local communities is very important.
Members of the different projects in Sicuani, one of our sites where we work

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012

more news from our offspring

tadpole of Telmatobius culeus

After a couple of days that we had the first eggs of Telmatobius culeus, now we have tadpoles. It was not so easy; everything was very nice and good until the day 6 and 7 when almost all our embryos were very well developed but we don’t know why?, but several of the tiny tadpoles that were inside of the eggs could not go out, in some cases we saw that some individuals were trying to go out but it was not successful and in other cases other small tadpoles were able to go out but they died. We are still searching the possible reasons for this, but fortunately we already have free swimming tadpoles that are doing well and they are already growing up very fast.

Tadpole of Telmatobius culeus
It is a great opportunity to learn more about this species and also to get more information that can be useful for the future not just for us but also for other institutions that want to work with this species.
size of a tadpole of Telmatobius culeus (one week after)
It seems that the good news are coming  together because a couple of days before we had another species of Telmatobius having eggs, this time from the south of Bolivia that probably is a new species for Bolivia or to science. Now we have also some tadpoles from this new species and with this we increase at four the species that we are able to breed in our captive breeding facilities.

another species of Telmatobius with a new offspring

These events are giving us a lot of information and also hope for these species and also if we are able to find some species that we are not finding anymore, we think we are going to be able to give them a chance to exist in this world.

viernes, 14 de diciembre de 2012

Great news about captive breeding

Amplexus of one couple of Telmatobius culeus

Now coming back with some good news, this time from our captive breeding component; after some success breeding different species of Telmatobius we decided to try to breed our individuals of the critically endangered Titicaca water frog (Telmatobius culeus). After some time learning how to keep them, working with the water quality of their aquariums that are very special due the water of the lake and also after treat the frogs for Chytrid, we decided to put together our male frogs with the females.
Amplexus of another couple of Telmatobius culeus

Was very interesting to see how they reacted and to see that they were more than ready to try to breed, the first couple of days we saw different amplexus where males hold females to try to breed.

taking notes about the process

About one week later we had some news, eggs in the aquarium! First time we try and we did it! Now to see if the eggs were ok, but just a couple of days waiting and with our first photos we found that they were developing… we saw that they took more time that our other species but they were doing well, now after some days, they are already leaving their eggs and finally we have our first tadpoles of the critically endangered Titicaca water frog.
embrios of Telmatobius culeus

This is a hope for us, telling us that the different species that are under a high risk to disappear can have an opportunity, we just need to work together.

Development of the eggs of Telmatobius culeus

lunes, 10 de diciembre de 2012

Is Chytrid in these localities?

The second part of fieldwork in Bolivia was very interesting, we found some new populations of the threatened amphibians of the genus Telmatobius, also we visited other localities that we use to monitor some populations.

A tree frog in one stream in Potosi department
We found a big change in water quality between different seasons of some streams that seem to change in the dry season and in the wet season.
In one of the localities we did not find adult frogs, just two tadpoles but also for our surprise we found two dead juvenile frogs of Telmatobius simonsi in the same stream and not so far one from each other. It was strange to see this in this stream were before we never found dead frogs. We collected all the samples and we want to analyze those samples to know what it is really happening in this area, because if Chytrid did arrive to this area, we would need to do something urgently.
One of the dead Telmatobius frogs that we found in the area

 We really hope that these populations that are present in dry and high areas that seem to be ok will not have the same pattern of declination like species from mountain cloud forests that are not anymore present.
Collecting samples of dead individuals

domingo, 2 de diciembre de 2012

in search of the frogs

Searching frogs in the mountains

Time to go out to the field and to see how the amphibian populations are going, this time we are crossing almost all the country visiting the different sites in five departments of Bolivia, Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosi, Chuquisaca and La Paz. We are trying to find the different populations, to obtain samples of water quality, chytrid swabs, UV readings and to try to find some extra populations mainly of threatened amphibian species of the genus Telmatobius.

Obtaining water quality information

For this we are visiting to de different sites with our team searching frogs in different sites, but unfortunately several places were before were very common or it was a record of some species, we are not finding frogs anymore, this is the case of Telmatobius yuracare, one species that before was very common, but not anymore. Now several streams are empty, no more frogs, we try to think what the reason is and a lot of new questions come out. 

Taking Chytrid samples

In one of the sites, we had again the comment of the local people telling us that the amphibians went to the war, like we heard before in other are some time ago when they told us that the frogs went to the war and since then they died a lot of frogs and that they found a lot of dead frogs in the streams… probably this situation is related with the arrival of chytrid to the area and it is interesting to see what was the reason and when exactly. Another common thing in these sites was the presence of an exotic species; the trout that now is present in all these streams and probably also has an effect in the Andean amphibian populations like had in other areas.

Hypsiboas a tree frog of the Andes

After several places with no frogs we moved to other areas and it was less frustrating to be able to see our frogs doing it well, some adults, tadpoles in different stages and relatively common, this is giving us a hope, but also telling us that we still having the change to try to understand what is really happening with amphibian populations that are decreasing and this is what we are trying to do. Now we still having some other places to visit and we hope we are going to find more frogs, frogs that tell us how our environment is going. 

An individual of Telmatobius and its habitat

sábado, 1 de diciembre de 2012

Joining efforts for amphibians

Working together helps to understand and to be able to work for the conservation of biodiversity with fastest and better results. For this reason we are trying to get in contact, to coordinate and to work together with other researchers, institutions and conservationists.

This is the case of Dr. De la Riva (Spain) and Dr. Burrows (Puerto Rico) that at the moment are in Bolivia working with a project with Chytrid and because we already are working with this subject with other institutions we are trying to coordinate and support for the understanding of this disease. They visited our facilities and also took some samples for the future analysis and to test some hypothesis about this disease.
Another case is Dr. Denoel from Belgium visiting the project with the different localities where we are working and exploring different options to work together especially with ecology, exotic species and the impact in amphibian populations. 

With this visit we possible will start collaboration between both institutions
These are some examples of the contacts that we are developing and that we think are going to help our work for the conservation of our biodiversity. For this we always welcome people or institutions that want to help us to work and that want to work together for the conservation of Bolivian amphibians.

martes, 7 de agosto de 2012

Acquiring and sharing skills

It is very important for conservation projects to be updated and share the knowledge that in different parts conservation institutions are using, so in this way we have less chances to do the same mistakes or to develop our work in a better way with better and faster results.

participants and some lecturers of the Amphibian Conservation Husbandry course 2012

Capacity building is one key component of the Bolivian amphibian initiative and in this case we participated with our staff in the Amphibian conservation Husbandry course organized by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust this June in Jersey United Kingdom.
Andrea learning how to inject microchips in amphibians
Andrea one of our staff was participating as a student to acquire the last tools and skills to work in conservation and with captive populations of amphibians and also was a very good experience for her to get in contact with other people in the world that is carrying out the same work she is developing within Bolivian amphibian Initiative. This experience gave Andrea a very good opportunity to see things from other point of view and also to understand where we want to arrive with the conservation of Bolivian amphibians. Now Andrea back to Bolivia after sharing all these experiences with the rest of the staff, she is also applying all these new tools to improve the work we are carrying out.
practice of marking techiques
practice of marking techiques

This very useful and interesting course was also an opportunity for me to share the knowledge about captive breeding and the different aspects that one to be aware, also all the experiences we are obtaining in the work with captive breeding and showing how conservation can be carried out in a developing country with very few resources. This also was a great opportunity to make new contacts and to refresh all the energies that we always get when we go back to Durrell and see all these people from all the world working for the conservation of endangered species.

visiting captive breeding facilities at Durrell

Now our next step is together with our team to organize the fourth amphibian conservation course in Bolivia that is organized by the Bolivian amphibian Initiative for students and young biologists and conservationists of Bolivia and surrounding countries, so we can spread our knowledge and experiences and more people can work for the conservation of endangered species.
Reintroduction of Agile frog tadpoles in Jersey