sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2009

Our adventure in Ayopaya

This time we went to an unknown area of the department of Cochabamba, Ayopaya province, an area that was not explored yet, especially amphibians and reptiles. We went to the dry valleys and Puna with some patches of cloud forest. Although we did not find many amphibians, we found interesting aspects. The forest structure of the area is very interesting because you can find in one slope a mountain cloud forest and in the other slope in the same valley an interandean dry forest; this situation can be reflected in a composition of animals that belongs to a completely different ecosystem groups. Unfortunately we could not find many species of frogs due to the rainy season that did not start yet, a very important factor in this kind of dry forest.

here we can see the mountain dry valleys of the area

Our trip was an adventure, due to the bad maintenance of the roads,  first we found some problems on the road, some very slippery and muddy areas where we had to push the car and some others that we had to go out from the car to see if we had enough space for a car. We were traveling with our colleagues researchers that are working with triatomine insects that are responsible of chagas disease, also with the nocturnal butterflies of the group saturnidae and botanists. Once in the area we worked in different locations and with the instructions of the villagers we got lost more than once trying to find some places. The structure of the amphibian fauna was very similar to the dry valleys of Cochabamba, Chuquisaca and Tarija, but we think that in the wet side can be very interesting to work, but unfortunately we could not arrive. 

An interesting thing that we found was that the area is dedicated to mining of different resources. We saw a gold mining company,  very close to a conjunction of two streams, one from the mines and other without intervention. At first impression the difference was completely clear. One completely transparent and the other completely dirty and when those streams got together downriver we could not find any invertebrate or vertebrate aquatic life. The villagers told us that the mine company takes the rocks to the city and they work there with that. But could be interesting to see if this really happen because the pollution in the area it was very strong and maybe they are just discarding the chemicals in the stream and some of those chemicals can be mercury, a heavy metal that can be lethal for the wildlife and human populations that live downriver.

After the work in the area we gave some talks about the groups that we were working with and we explained the school kids about amphibians, conservation and the importance of amphibians for the ecosystem and for them.

Going back to the city it was another adventure because we found that the road was blocked by landslides so we had to go back and to take the long way that was not so nice to drive there, very narrow roads and with the first rains and foggy weather we had to drive very slowly and finally our brakes did not work and we had to drive about 130 km very slowly in a very strong rain.
After all this adventure now we are very excited to try to go back to the area and to work in the mountain cloud forest that we saw from the distance, now we need to organize maybe an long term expedition to see what kind of herpetofauna we can find.

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