CREA, an ASA Partner, is happy to announce a one week field course in herpetology at our Cocobolo Biological Field Station in Panama from 1st June to 6th June 2017.
Amphibians and reptiles are suffering unprecedented rates of extinction and yet they are the least studied groups of vertebrates. CREA, the non-profit organization that manages Cocobolo Nature Reserve and runs field courses there, sees it as vital that budding herpetologists are given adequate training opportunities to undertake independent research and outreach, if we are to have a chance at understanding and preserving the current diversity of these ancient species.
This course, through a mixture of class and field learning, will cover diverse topics such as taxonomy, acoustics, behavior, conservation and photography as well as provide guidance on independent research carried out during the course. It will be geared towards students that desire hands-on field experience in the tropics in a high diversity setting and those that may be looking towards a postgraduate degree that includes herpetological research.
Cocobolo Nature Reserve is an amazing 1100-acre nature reserve in the heart of Panama with a highly diverse tropical forest extending from 220m to 800m above sea level. As a result of its geography and topology its amphibian and reptile diversity is extraordinary with species affinities from Central and South America. The reserve boasts, 51 species of amphibians, with 45 frogs, five salamanders and one caecilian species. Among these species is the stunning but endangered Harlequin Toad (Atelopus limosus), a species that has been at the heart of our conservation and research efforts at the reserve (see FrogLog 114, April 2015). We have also identified 62 species of reptiles including 33 species of snakes, 11 iguanas, 8 lizards, 7 geckos, a turtle and caiman. We are only just beginning to understand the diversity and complexity of reptiles and amphibians in this region of Panama, that had never been surveyed prior to our efforts. We expect many more discoveries over the coming years as more herpetologists visit these forests.
We also have two fantastic facilitators that will lead the course. Alex Shepack is a PhD candidate from the Southern Illinois University. He has a deep knowledge of amphibians and reptiles from the New World and has a specific interest in disease dynamics that are causing the unparalleled loss of amphibian species across the globe. Also, we have Abel Batista, a Panamanian naturalist with perhaps the most extensive knowledge of animal and plant species found in Panama where he has identified many new species of reptiles and amphibians. He recently received his PhD from the Senckenberg Institute in Germany. He has deep interest in taxonomy, acoustics and photography of amphibians and reptiles.
The course will be held from 1st June to 6th June 2017and we look forward to seeing you in Panama.
Photo: Harlequin Toad (Atelopus limosus) © CREA