Education

Talking about wood

L-R: Mark Schofield (Ex-Editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine); Yolanda Flores (Department of Agriculture); Augusto Carvajal (Biologist); Magaly Figueroa (USDA Forest Service, IITF); Andrés Rúa (Tropic Ventures Research & Education Foundation); 3t Vakil (Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project); Connie Carpenter (US State & private Forestry, IITF); Christina Cabrera (Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales, Ayudante Especial, Oficina del Secretario); Aileen Amador (Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas).

CADA meeting at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, 30th August 2013.
Consejo Asesor para el Desarrollo Agroforestal de Puerto Rico

“Working towards the development of Sustainable Forestry in Puerto Rico, and the research and creation of a forest products industry and relevant markets.”

See www.nuestramadera.org for more info on this new council and its mission, founded in May 2013 by Andrés Rúa and 3t Vakil.

All images by 3t Vakil

Frogging

Frogging at Las Casas de la Selva! Patricia Caligari (center) is pursuing a Masters Degree at University of Puerto Rico. L-R: Rosangela, Michel, Naomi and Monica are her assistants in the field and they are taking credits as part of their bachelor degrees.

Geographic assessment of the response of three different endemic Puerto Rican anurans to the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd)

ABSTRACT

Chytridiomycosis is a lethal infectious disease caused by the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which is responsible for the extinction of many amphibians worldwide. In Puerto Rico three species of Eleutherodactylus disappeared potentially due to this pathogen, and many others are at risk. A synergistic effect between Bd and climate was shown for two species at El Yunque, but this relationship has not been tested in other species or forests. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the status of Bd in three endemic species, Eleutherodactylus wightmanae, Eleutherodactylus coqui, and Leptodactylus albilabris, which differ in conservation status, ecology and life history, in three highland forests across the island. Results from this study will enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of Bd under enzootic conditions.

Her advisor is Dr. Patricia Burrowes, who also co-authored our biodiversity and frog study paper.

Humanure Compost Toilets

Since February 2013, our new composting toilets have proved a huge success with everyone who has used them. Several Alternative Spring Break University groups in March 2013 made valuable deposits in our new humanure composting toilets, and we have one compost full and another already started. Up for a visit? Come have the splash-back free experience and leave a valuable resource behind. If you wrote a poem, be sure to leave it here too!

Patillas Kids Day

Kids Day in Patillas!! Thank you to everyone in Patillas who organized, led projects, made costumes, worked with kids rehearsing, set up tents, cleaned, and helped make Kids Day a wonderful fundraiser for Escuela Elemental de Marin Bajo. To Ruty Reyes and Tito Lebron, and the best team ever, muchas gracias! Love from The Bosquer@s, Las Casas de la Selva!

Norman on sabbatical

In 2012 Norman Greenhawk was honored by Earthwatch with a Neville Schulman Award. The award is given for the training of emerging environmental leaders. For the award, Norman submitted a proposal: “Herpetological Conservation in the Neo-Tropics: An Interdisciplinary Approach”, and he is currently two and a half months into his seven month sabbatical.

June 2013: Above: Norman Greenhawk with Nahir Tejada in the PARC (Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project) quarantine room, located at Summit Zoological and Botanical Park in Panama. The frogs are being stored here in temporary housing as the project finalizes it’s relocation to the new facility in the nearby community of Gamboa. Every day, over 150 plastic tanks of frogs have to be cleaned and the frogs have to be provided with fresh water and food. Norman is holding an Atelopus limosus and Nahir holds an Atelopus glyphus. Collectively, members of the genus Atelopus are known as “Harlequin frogs”, and are highly susceptible to the Chytrid fungus that is decimating frog populations worldwide. The goal of PARC is to preserve a genetically diverse breeding population in captivity in the event that these species go extinct in the wild, as the Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) is currently.

He has spent a month at La MICA Biological Field Station in El Cope, Panama. He has worked with Dr. Julie Ray, a specialist of Panamanian snakes and has also interviewed citizens of the rural barrio of Barrigon about their attitudes and beliefs about snakes. His time in Panama will end with a stint at the Panamanian Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (PARC), which partners with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. PARC is a captive breeding program dedicated to preserving genetically diverse populations of Atelopus frogs, a genus of frogs that are highly susceptible to the Chytrid fungus, a disease currently wiping out populations of amphibians all over the world. While working at PARC, he is continuing his interviews of local and indigenous peoples, focusing on beliefs about reptiles and amphibians in general, as well as perceptions about conservation organizations.

Norman also has had an opportunity to conduct a very sobering interview that helps showcase why he is so focused on community outreach and partnership. On May 30th, Jairo Mora Sandoval, a Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist, was murdered by poachers who were angered at his efforts to attract the attention of police to a huge illegal turtle harvest. By chance, a former Las Casas volunteer was working with Jairo’s group when the murder occurred. He met with Norman and shared his story of what happened; Jairo was a young man, 26 years old. The night before his murder, he spoke of wanting to propose to his girlfriend. He was well liked by the community, and even by many of the local poachers. Such examples of violence are extreme, but not unheard of. Norman hopes that his continued outreach to communities around each of the conservation projects he is working at will help in some small way to prevent future tragedies such as this- on July 3rd, Norman flies to Belize to work with a crocodile sanctuary that was burned to the ground two years ago by Maya Indians who erroneously thought that two village children had been eaten by the crocodiles. We wish the best for Norman on his intrepid explorations!

Atelopus limosus male

Image by Brian Gratwicke [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons