So, my life here on out in Gamboa isn’t going to be nearly as interesting as it has been so far. Now that the arena/maze is built, and the phonotaxis pen is built, it’s just a matter of running everyone through the trials, i.e. sitting and video recording each toad for an hour a night. We got some interesting results the first night (I’m doing 3 toads one night and 2 toads the next), but the next night (last night) was almost a full moon, and the toads actually did behave differently. I’m curious to know if the increased moonlight was the cause. It was very bright; I could see without my headlamp, and that’s definitely saying something!
The phonotaxis trials didn’t go so hot; the toads keep trying to escape. We think it’s because the sides of the pen are made of mesh, so they can see right through and think they can hop out. I got some big plastic garbage bags at El Rey last night, and I’m going to drape those over the sides of the pen to see if that helps at all.
Miguel, Lynne and I snuck into the resort pool again on Thursday around lunchtime; this time I brought my camera. We got sunburned, which sucked, even though we were only out there for an hour. Oh, well, we bought sunscreen at the store last night, so that won’t happen again. The resort is so beautiful, it’s worth it to go just to see the view of the river and the canal!
On Thursday night Lynne and I took the boat to BCI for the dinner and the BAMBI (informal talk). The boat ride was fun, I had to ‘smuggle’ some bins on board so I could bring Rachel back her computer. Apparently there is a computer shortage with the bat people, so it was Amanda (with Jose’s help) to the rescue!
Dinner was good; not exceptionally tasty, but it was really nice to have someone else cook. Tofu-y stuff and rice and some sort of meat thing and French fries, salad and ice cream; hey, works for me. For $4 you get to the island and you get dinner, I’m totally sold for every Thursday until I leave.
After dinner we went to the BAMBI, which was an interesting talk about the relationship among understory vegetation, peccaries, and insectivorous birds. The woman giving the talk was very into her topic, which was good, considering it was her dissertation, but she definitely drew some conclusions that were not necessarily based on evidence. Oh, and she definitely got called on it.
I stayed on BCI that night to observe the cane toads in their natural habitat. Supposedly, there are large congregations of tungara frogs calling all the time, and the paper that I am trying to verify mentions a specific pond where the observer saw cane toads approach and consume tungara frogs. However, when I went searching, there were absolutely NO tungaras. Anywhere. Not a peep. Not a visual. Nothing. There were cane toads, oh yes, but they were doing their normal cane toad things; hanging out in the grass and on the sidewalk, waiting for insects or something to walk by so they could eat it. I observed these guys for a while, walked around looking for tungaras, and finally gave up and went back to the office. I looked up research papers all night, and watched a movie, and listened to some music. It was way too cold to sleep in the office; every time I touched the floor (tile) I felt like I was on ice. I finally dragged the little sleeping pad I had outside onto the balcony, and crashed out for about 3 hours. The Howler Monkeys woke me up around 6, and let me tell you, if you’re not expecting it, that is NOT a fun way to wake up!
Next week, I’ll go back, but this time I’ll bring my IPod and speaker so I can try and draw the cane toads in. We’ll see what happens; I’m skeptically, but at least I can disprove the paper by looking at the new evidence. Jose showed me where the hammocks were in the morning, so I will sleep in a hammock next week, and not on the ground.