Transects, Jungle, Indigos… Let the science begin!

Research Belize

Today was a day to set transects. Ok, first of all, what the heck is a transect?

A transect is a path along which one counts and records occurrences of the phenomena of study (i.e. frogs, plants, velociraptors, etc). Usually, but not always, these paths are linear and the idea is that survey can be replicated in the same place where it was previously surveyed.  What are we looking for on this river? This transect is targeted for reptiles and amphibians (i.e. herps). By setting up the transect we can actually learn about the ecology of these amazing animals that call this river home...Science!

Research Belize

Elina, herp intern extraordinaire, painstakingly stretches out measuring tape. Believe it or not, it is somewhat difficult to walk upstream in a river. We measured 900 meters on this reach of river, called Dry Creek. Yes, yes, I know… Dry Creek is obviously not dry at all, and quite the contrary, it is wet. After a few hours on Dry/Wet Creek the transects were set and we will begin the surveys this coming week.

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The habitat along Dry Creek is extraordinarily beautiful. Luckily the rocks are not very slippery so conducting the surveys is not too hazardous. We did take a few falls today in the river, but it’s not field work if you don’t bleed or bruise!

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Today was pretty darn toasty, so wading through the stream was refreshing. At some point the river is waist deep, but most of the time it is at boot level. That canopy is pretty awesome, right?

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Earlier in the day we stopped by a constructed wetland to see what was out and about. When I was back at TREES in July there was a Speckled Racer, Drymobius margaritiferus, that was seen regularly hunting frogs. Would she be there today?

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What luck as a snake was found! However, it was not the Racer… but something much more interesting! In this little corridor I discovered an Indigo, Drymarchon melanurus, and based on its behavior it appeared to be hunting. As soon as it saw me, it bolted into the vegetation. PERFECT PLACE TO SET A CAMERA.

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Eva is helping me set the camera in the perfect place. This photo gives you an idea how these cameras are set up. I cannot wait to see what’s on the camera. Tomorrow hopefully we will have some awesome Indigo action caught on film.



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