Saturday, July 23, 2011

Panama Facts and more!

Here's a link to a youtube page with some great information about Panama and the people and animals that live there, put together by Montclair State University.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's Crunch Time!

Hi folks,

I'm writing to say that I'm sorry. Why, you ask? Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to sign off for a little while. You see, I'm right in the thick of set 2 trials with the cane toads, and as you saw from my last post, I've got 13 (well, 11 really) leaf litter toads that are being conditioned and will start trials at the end of this week. This is absolutely GREAT news, being that I'll be able to collect data on 20 cane toads and at least 8 leaf litter toads by the end of the summer.

So why the disappearing act? Even though I'm excited to have so much going on, it also means a lot of work for me. I'm leaving in just a few weeks, so I've got to hurry up and get everything done! When I'm testing 3 groups of 2 species of toads, one at night and the other during the day, I'm working 14+ hours every single day. I can honestly say that I'm very excited, and the prospect of working so much doesn't phase me, but I know I'm not going to have much time to do anything else.... and that includes writing blog posts. So sayonara for now; I'll write when I can, but please don't expect to see anything new until the middle of August. Ahhh, who am I kidding - I'm sure I'll write a couple in between now and then, but maybe, maybe once a week at the most.

I'll have lots to share when I get back to Lubbock and start analyzing my data, so please, please come back and see me in August when school starts back up again! Until then I'll be running as many trials as I can, packing up my equipment (and clothes!) and heading back to Austin, and attending the ESA conference this year!

Happy Toading!

P.S. I'll leave you with this great Capybara family that lives behind the Gamboa Resort. There's about a dozen (or more!), and they've been hanging around everytime we've gone to the pool this summer.

*All photo and video in this post is courtesy of Lynne Beaty*

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Swallow Your Food!

I'm about to start the next round of trials tonight, so I apologize for not writing something longer today. Because you're all such good readers and stopped by anyways, here are a few great pictures from the last two days:

This is definitely my favorite photo of the summer! We picked up this cane toad (in my left hand, farther away) earlier in the night, and of course didn't have anything to put him in. Later, we found this beautiful Goliath Tree Frog and I *really* needed to pick him up (hence the flashlight in my mouth). Notice the antennae sticking out? He just had a very yummy meal... :)

On Monday my advisor came back into town and brought Mason, one of my favorite undergrads! They are doing a separate project with the Leaf Litter Toads, and brought me 9 toads this morning. It was a bit of a shuffle, but I got everybody housed in their own containers and safely tucked away with food and water. These guys take a bit longer to start eating meal worms (about 7 days), so I wanted to get them all settled ASAP so I could start training them. 

These last two are pictures of the 'scaled down' arena for the little toads. Remember those hop tests we did way back in June? Well, it looks like the little toads' hop length is about half the size of the larger cane toads, and their jump length is about a third the size. We took the difference and made the arena 5/12 smaller (I know, it seems a little silly), which worked out to be a nice, even 40 inches across! 

I can't wait for these little toads to start eating so we can see what they'll do in the arena. OK, I'm off to start more cane toad trials! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Analyzing the Videos: Drawing a Line in the Dirt

Once all of the arena zones are drawn, it's time to analyze the video in Ethovision. This is the easiest step by far. Simply put, I import the video into Ethovision, make sure that the detection setting are set so that the program recognizes the toad as the 'subject', and I click 'record'. Then I wait for an hour! :) The program is very cool, it traces the path of the toad and analyzes all sorts of information about it. Here's a picture of a path from a food toad's 1st trial in the arena:

And here's a picture of the path of the same toad during the 6th trial:

What kind of differences do you notice about the path that this toad took? Does it look like he visited any of the food bowls? Can you tell if he ate any of the food? 

After you make your predictions, watch the video of the 6th trial below. The trial is sped up to 10x the normal speed so you won't have to watch an hour of a toad exploring (like I do!). 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Getting Ready for Round #2!

Well, we're back from Bocas del Toro, which was a great adventure (though not entirely relaxing). It was very quiet and deserted because it is the off-season, meaning that tourists usually wait until the drier, "winter" months to visit. We enjoyed snorkeling and hanging out at the beach for a few days before returning to Gamboa.

Meanwhile, in Gamboa, We've collected 9 toads and are almost ready to start our second set of trials! On Sunday I'll continue the saga and write about more video analysis in Ethovision, and show you an example of one of the toad videos from this last set of trials.

Right now, I'd like to share an amazing website that I just found, Canopy in the Clouds. This website embodies everything I'd like to do with Adventures in Toading in the future; it's got tons of activities and lesson plans, a 3-D, interactive Cloud Forest, and information about the wildlife and ecosystems that you can find in the cloud forests of Central America. There's even a Spanish version of the page, which is something I hope to do with AIT by the end of the summer. :)

Buenas noches, y voy a escribir más en este domingo!
(Good night, and I'll write more this Sunday!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not only anteaters eat ants :)

We're heading to Bocas del Toro for a couple of days to enjoy the sum (I hope!) and the surf, but I'll leave you with a great find from this morning; a Northern Tamandua!