Amphibian research with Dr. Cathy Bevier
During JanPlan 2012, I worked with Professor Cathy Bevier of Colby College in Brazil on anuran research. The goal of this trip was to collaborate with Brazilian researchers in a continuing study on fragmentation. Additionally, I learned the methodologies for a study that has potential to be recreated in Maine. This spring, I will be continuing work with Professor Bevier, using some of the techniques that I was exposed to in Brazil.
The Environmental Studies Department, the Biology Department, and the University of São Paulo supported this four week long independent study. For the first ten days, I was stationed at Colby College. During this time, I prepared for the trip to Brazil by doing background research on the issue of fragmentation in the Atlantic Forest and on the species present in our research area. I also learned how to use several pieces of equipment, some that we would be bringing to Brazil and others that I will be using during the spring semester.
On the 12th of January, Professor Bevier and I left for São Paulo and immediately from São Paulo, we traveled to the small town of São Luiz do Paraitinga. We stayed in the house of Ananada Brito, a graduate student under Professor Carlos Navas of University of São Paulo. Ananda’s study focused on the skin secretions of Procerytophrys boiei and their microhabitats. Specifically, she was looking at frogs in fragmented areas. We made connections for study sites with landowners and set the stage for future research.
Our routine was set fairly quickly. Every night around 5 PM, we would travel to a fragment. We stayed in the fragment, with recordings of P. boiei playing in an attempt to rile the frogs into calling, until around midnight. When we found a frog, we collected it in a plastic bag, without touching the frog or the surrounding area with our hands. Then, the pH, temperature, and humidity were taken. Swabs of the microhabitat were made. Lastly, we collected water from the closest water source and took the pH and temperature of the water. We brought the frogs and the water back to the lab. The water was run through a very fine filter. These filters were then put into a buffer that preserves the bacteria and frozen. The frogs were swabbed for skin secretions, shocked to induce more skin secretion production, and swabbed again. The skin secretions were put in the freezer as well. The bacteria on the swabs taken of the microhabitat were put on plates to grow. When we found a P. boiei in the field, Professor Bevier and I would try and get a recording. I will be analyzing these calls during the beginning of the spring semester. I will be using some of the methodology that I learned from Ananda during the spring semester as well.
All in all, I am incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity. Almost every night, I would try to think of all the things I learned that day. It was a ton of information; my notebook is full! This trip not only allowed me to make valuable connections in Brazil, learn some new protocols, and get a better understanding of the importance of fragments, but just from being around a graduate student, I learned some of the processes of obtaining a Ph.D.