Well for the last month I have been on holiday in England and our project Research Officer, ‘Lloydie’ and Field Assistant, ‘Blacka’ have been holding the fort in terms of fieldwork in Montserrat. July has seen us take on more rain which has pushed the frogs further out of the ghaut. Only 3 different individual frogs were seen in the release site for the whole month, but…. no dead frogs were seen! We believe this drop in numbers of frogs seen is due to the rain. When it rains heavily in Montserrat (and I mean heavily) the frogs move higher up the banks of the ghaut and avoid the raging water courses. Also, because the forest is so much wetter (damp leaf litter and isolated pools etc) the frogs have less need to come down to the ghaut for access to water. We also believe that, had we finally reached that point of mass outbreak of chytridiomycosis in the population, then we would be seeing many more frogs dead in the ghaut, as in previous examples in both Montserrat and Dominica. So…the frogs are there people, we just need to find them!
In other glorious news, the guys managed to find two new surviving mountain chickens in an area called Mournful ghaut. We have been hearing these frogs calling for some time in this area but Blacka and Lloydie were finally able to locate them up a steep cliff side (these frogs really know where to hide). Both frogs were looking healthy and were weighing over 300g- that’s a lot of frog! So there is still hope for the surviving population in Montserrat and we will continue to monitor these animals closely to ensure they remain healthy and in good condition (using the strictest bio security measures of course). The fight for the mountain chicken continues.
– Sarah-Louise Smith (Project Coordinator)