Herpetology at MTCF revisited.

A casual observer cannot help but notice the dramatic epiphytes in myriad biodiversity draping the branches of the trees or the thunderous calls of howler monkeys here at MTCF. The cloud forest however yields many of its secrets only with the patience and persistance of the observer who reacquaints him or herself with the animal cunningness of the hunter gatherer. Those gems held within the forest tucked in the folds of heliconia leaves, under moss and stone and in the aquatic base of bromeliads.

A clue of this hidden diversity is revealed when visiting entomologists set up their lights and moths and beetles stream in through the night in a pagentry of colors, shapes and forms that awes and inspires. These artificial lights replace the stalking of the hunter and act like magic wands confusing these insects as they spiral toward the entomologists’ syringe and killing jars.

Todays blog however is about frogs, snakes and salamanders and equally about honoring the field work and stalking skills, both amateur and professional, required to reveal the presence of these herpatological wonders. We have a friend and volunteer at the moment, Kevin Moser, who is back for his second visit here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. Kevin is devoted to the preservation of frogs, many species currently in peril for reasons that are only partially understood. He is here to survey once again the presence or absence of frogs here at MTCF.

Kevin took under his wing another visitor, Shane Bender, a 17 year old from Switzerland who spent three weeks at MTCF this summer. The two of them spent many hours in the field at night. Imagine the challenge of hearing a tree frog high up in a tree laden with thousands of epiphytes. Getting a ladder, climbing the tree and spending up to 2 hours persistantly checking the base of bromeliads and honing in on the call until at last the hidden frog is revealed. The opening picture of this blog is a frog species that was found in just the way described. This was an exciting find because this frog is rarely heard here and we are not sure what species it belongs to or if it might even be a new subspecies. Our copy of Jay M Savage’s Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica does not describe this frog and we are sending images to contacts who might help in identifying it.

Here are more images of frogs found during the past couple of weeks, many in some of the more remote upper reaches of MTCF and adjoining La Amistad NP.

To start with a few more images of this new discovery

The frog showed above was found at about 1400m near a stream on the 4WD road that leads up to MTCF

This frog with golden speckles was also found stream side at about 1400m on the road up to MTCF.

Same frog as above showing throat sac while calling.

Same frog as above.

This frog was found at 1400m and again at MTCF at 1900m.

Another individual of the same species as shown above?

This species was found in a spring seep, under a small branch in deep shade of the forest near a bog like habitat in La Amistad NP at around 2100m.

Another image of this forest ground dweller.

A close up view.

This salamander was found near the intake of our hydro plant at MTCF at 1940m.

A snake seen at forest edge at 1800m at MTCF.

We have not been able to positively identify any of these amphibians or reptiles. We are sharing these photos with experts in the hopes of identifying and building up an accurate species list of the Herpetology of MTCF

Here is a link to the image gallery of herpetology specimens photographed at MTCF since 2009.

Herpetology of MTCF

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