Frog Projects

With only about 1 week of the expedition left to go, we all can’t believe how quickly the last 2 months have passed! Our frog projects are now almost complete, and are making use of laboratory space at the University of the West Indies to investigate two aspects of the behaviour of Trinidad’s native frog species.

Kirsty’s project is investigating the heights climbed by three different species of tree frog and some of their nocturnal behaviours, such as returning to ground level and taking refuge in water. She has been visiting several sites around the island to collect frogs to use in the experiment, including the ponds around the William Beebe Tropical Research Station and Lopinot village in the Northern Range.

 

Zoe’s project is looking at how the early life experiences affect the development of personality in the Tùngara frog. In practice, this involves providing different amounts of food to the developing tadpoles and then measuring their activity levels, exploratory behaviours and risk-taking tendencies.  She is testing these traits by filming their behaviour in specially-designed tanks and mazes during the tadpole stage and after they metamorphose.

All of the frogs and tadpoles used in both of the experiments will be released back into the exact location they were found once the projects are complete to help preserve the wild populations!

Advertisements

Volunteering at Cashew Gardens

So last week the team set out to Cashew Gardens to volunteer with their waste management! Trinidad and Tobago is said to generate the most waste per capita in the world, inevitably ending up in their rivers and causing flooding. So, the Cashew community are keen to make Trinidad a greener place by improving their recycling facilities. We arrived to thousands of plastic bottles collected by the surrounding neighbourhoods, waiting to be sorted. Our role was to sort and count the plastic in order to present this data to organisations that will supply grants and funding. This collection scheme has been going on since January 2017 and so far has seen over 20,000 plastic items pass its doors.

In our short but very sweaty few hours of work, we managed to sort 3674 bottles! We then managed to squeeze in a few hours of liming (Trinidadian for hanging out or socialising!) with the lovely ladies of Cashew Gardens. We look forward to following the Cashew community in their journey and wish them every success!

 

Lucy

The Trinidad Team

Geography Project

The geography project has been going great – we’ve been hard at work with interviews, questionnaires, surveys and a recycling project in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Trinidad has been named by the World Bank the biggest producer of waste per capita in the world. In addition, Trindad’s landfills have reached capacity, posing health risks and severe ecological threat. This makes Trinidad an excellent case study for waste management. We aim to assess the true extent of this issue, the extent of public awareness and identify some possible solutions. At the end of our study we will be sharing our data with NGOs to help them in their applications for funding in future projects and to also help bring awareness to the extent of the issue to government.

WEEK 1

During the first week we started our research by carrying out questionnaires on the UWI campus and conducting a number of interviews set up with members of staff, as well as making general observations of our surroundings.

19398792_1404025223019557_1187141959_n

WEEK 2

In week 2 we continued interviews with staff at UWI, and questionnaires in Tunapuna market and in the Trincity shopping centre.

tunapuna-market

WEEK 3

Week 3 was the most exciting yet as we went on a visit to Wa Samaki Ecosystems – a permaculture farm. Here we met for a discussion with Anne-marie and Sean who work there.  We were given a tour of the farm where they showed us the plants they grow, their composting systems and their rescue animals.

The team plans to do some volunteering here this coming week.

WEEK 4

In week 4 we begun work on our UWI recycling project. The aim of this microstudy is to set up some new recycling bins on campus and monitor their use to assess whether the waste management issue in Trinidad is a matter of lack of infrastructure or more of a cultural/social issue.

We will also be contacting the companies who are mandated to recycle the waste that is currently collected on campus to find out what actually happens to it (sometimes recycled waste actually ends up in the landfill).

Below is Lucy, Rory and Jess posing where we planned to place the bins.

19894040_1725313840819869_1812075087_n19758390_1725313787486541_231270892_n

WEEK 5

During week 5 we made a visit to Cashew Gardens, a community recycling project. Cashew Gardens is leading the way in showing that communities do have the will to recycle, given the means to.

The Cashew Gardens community has a monthly bottle sorting event where they sort all the recycling which they have been collecting to then send it away. The whole team shall be attending this months sorting session on Tuesday.

19875159_1354528047969913_8864825193115033254_n

WEEK 6

In week 6 we had an interview with SWMCOL, the company responsible for waste management in Trinidad and Trinidad’s three landfills. We also had an interview with Tisha Marajh from Green Alternatives in Action who aims to bring together private sectors, government and companies such as Coca Cola and Blue Water in discussion and collaboration on environmental issues.

In addition, we finally set up our recycling bins on campus which we are very happy with!

20046210_1427266637362082_1704723119_n (1)

Stay tuned for updates on next weeks volunteering at Wa Samaki and Cashew Gardens!

 

Claire

The Trinidad team.

 

 

Turtle Projects!

We’re well into our fourth week now and the projects are coming along nicely! The turtle team have been heading out to Fishing Pond beach on the north-east of Trinidad as much as they can, although were limited by tropical storm Bret. This caused the beach to become waterlogged so we had to put the projects on hold for a few nights.

Once we arrive on the beach, it’s never long before we spot a turtle – almost always a Leatherback. When we manage to spot the turtles before they have started to lay, we take a series of measurements such as body temperature, sand compaction, humidity, carapace dimensions etc. as a measurement of condition/fitness. Once the female has started to lay, we measure egg temperature as a proxy for core body temperature and finish up with external body temperature once finished.

The aim of these projects are to determine the effect of environment change on the temperatures taken from previous years and also to compare the differences between our work and the nesting, smaller Hawksbill turtles in Tobago. We are also trying to determine if there is a correlation between nest depth and body size and site selection.

19059799_1713719761986578_5544224507164882922_n

We were extremely lucky in finding a Hawksbill turtle – a critically endangered species – on one of our first nights out. This was something that none of us were expecting to see so we were very excited!

We look forward to updating you with the rest of our projects soon!

 

Lucy

The Trinidad Team.

First Week & Bats Projects!

So we’ve reached the end of our first week in Trinidad and are settling in well! The team have spent a lot of time at the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus training in bat handling for Ellen and Rory’s Honours projects. This has involved setting up a variety of mist nets on campus to capture and identify the species.

We started the week practising using the ground nets before setting up the triple high net. To ID the species, we take a series of measurements and observations such as forearm length, gender, age, etc. This will help us understand the biodiversity of Trinidad’s bats.

And of course, we managed to take some selfies!

We also took our first trip to Port of Spain for a talk by the Trinidad & Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club on the Asa Wright Nature Centre on Thursday night. It was very interesting to find out the history of the Centre and how it came to be what it is today. This was followed by drinks and gyros – yum! We have also been working on our frog, turtle and geography projects so keep an eye out for posts coming soon!

On the not so academic side of the trip, we’ve been enjoying trying out the street food, mangoes(the best you’ll ever try), markets and of course, the beer of Trinidad!

Speak soon!

 

Lucy

The Trinidad Team.

Fundraising!

Hey everyone!

With only one week ’till we leave, we thought we’d update you on our fundraising! We’ve been working hard over the past couple of months to raise money we need for our equipment and lab rental. With the help of some lovely sponsors and our fab guests, we’ve hosted two quiz nights, a games night, a chilli eating challenge and a number of individual and team challenges!

We attended as many events as possible to shake our buckets at the very generous people of Glasgow.

 

With the help of Bar Gumbo, we hosted a Disney themed buffet/quiz night with an amazing turnout!

 

We also held a chilli eating challenge in the QMU:

 

We then held a tropical quiz night in Coopers where we had themed quiz rounds and even a limbo contest!

17361527_384975098551347_6920185450449555880_n

 

Some of the team also took part in a sponsored climb of the Campsie Fells

 

Each member of the team has since taken part in an individual challenge such as Rory waxing his legs, arms and chest and Lucy cycling the equivalent of the length of Trinidad. The rest of the group are carrying out their challenges in the coming days.

 

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated, sponsored or attended any of our events – everyone has been so generous and have helped massively in our expedition. We will keep you updated when we arrive!

See you soon,

Lucy
The Trinidad Team.

Meet the Team!

Ewan Beveridge

ewanHey I’m Ewan and I’m a third year zoology student. Whilst in Trinidad I’m hoping to carry out research for my Honours project on the fitness of leatherback sea turtles over the course of their nesting season. Apart from working with turtles, I’m also looking forward to helping out with the other projects and, of course, trying the local food!

 

 

 

Ruth Carter

ruthHey, I’m Ruth! I am a second year student studying Earth Science at Glasgow University. I’ve recently returned from a scientific expedition to Kenya which inspired a strong interest in field work and geology. This has pushed me to gain more experience. I am very excited to go to Trinidad this summer! I will be taking part in a geography project looking at various human and physical aspects to study pollution and rubbish levels.

 

Lucy Clark

lucyHi, I’m Lucy, I’m 19 and in second year studying Marine and Freshwater Biology! This will be my first time on an expedition and in Trinidad so I’m really looking forward to putting the theory work of my course into action with the field work. In particular, I’m looking forward to taking part in the projects on marine turtles and experiencing new culture and generally exploring another country!

 

Adam Czyzewski

adamHi, I’m Adam, I’m from Poland, Pruszków. I’m 1st year Computing Science Student (but I also take Biology and Chemistry). I’m enthusiastic and full of energy and love music, sports and sciences. I also keep dart frogs and carnivorous plants in my spare time. I’m in 3 sports clubs: boxing, weightlifting and judo. I’m also interested in nutrition. This is a great opportunity to protect the environment and contribute to the field of animal science, and more personally, I love frogs, and I would love to see them at large and be able to actually take steps to protect them.

 

Claire Gallacher

claireHello! I’m Claire and I’m a third year geography student. In Trinidad I’ll be working on a geography project which will be part of my honours dissertation. This project will involve looking at pollution and people’s attitudes towards local and global environmental issues. I’m excited to experience the incredibly diverse and unique mix of cultures that Trinidad has to offer.

Kirsty Martin

kirstyHi, I’m Kirsty and I’m a third year zoology student. Whilst in Trinidad I will be working on amphibians which I’m looking forward to as I’ve never worked with frogs before so it’ll be really new and interesting to me. I’m excited to spend all these memories with our really great team and can’t wait to get out there.

 

Ellen McMurchy

ellenMy name is Ellen, I am a third year Zoology student and this will be my first expedition to Trinidad. I love animals and the outdoors, so going to Trinidad to work in conservation and see the vast amount of wildlife on offer has me extremely excited. Whilst on the expedition I am hoping to carry out my honours project. I would like to compare different sites in the beautiful Arima Valley and see how a recent increase in disturbance in this area is affecting the bat populations. I am extremely excited to have been chosen for this opportunity and can’t wait to explore another part of the world!

 

Jessica Melrose

jessicaHi I’m Jessica, a second year Geography and Economics Student. In Trinidad I am going to be to studying environmental degradation, the impact of rubbish pollution has had in both rural and urban areas in addition to understanding local people’s opinions and how this is a growing global issue. I am looking forward to being in a new environment and culture in Trinidad.

 

Hilary Mulholland

hilaryHi, I’m Hilary, I’m a fourth year Earth Science student who has been heavily involved in expeditions for the last three years. My first expedition with the university was to Trinidad and I absolutely fell in love with it! The vibrancy of the culture, ecosystems and scenery is unparalleled, so of course I jumped at the chance to advise the new team. I also hope to use my time in Trinidad to develop my own knowledge with regards to palaeobiological indicators shown in fossil corals, such as those in the north of Trinidad. Can’t wait!

Rory Pendreigh

roryHi, I’m Rory, and I’m a third-year zoology student going on my first ever expedition to Trinidad. I have held a great love for animals and the outdoors since I was young. Trinidad is a diverse Island with a large abundance of wildlife. I hope to do my honours project while I am over there and help my teammates with any projects they are doing. My honours project would involve bats and how urban encroachment is potentially affecting their distribution on the Island. Using special recording devices, I hope to compare bat calls both in urban and rural areas to see if the urban or rural environments favour certain species of bat. I am very excited to have this opportunity and can’t wait to experience the vibrant life of Trinidad.

 

Rory Thomson

rory-tHi, I’m Rory. I’m a second year Zoology student. This will be my first expedition with the University of Glasgow, so I’m really looking forward to gaining experience and an understanding into how an expedition works. In particular, I’m excited to take part in projects involving turtles and putting the knowledge I have learned into practice. As well as experiencing the culture of Trinidad and working with locals.

Helena Strachan

helenaHi I’m Helena, I’m 20 years old and currently in my third year studying Zoology at Glasgow University. I will be carrying out my honours project in Trinidad next year and am really looking forward to learning about and working with its diverse range of wildlife. My honours project will be focused on the leatherback turtles that nest on the North East coast of the island, and I will be studying egg temperature and core body temperature in order to compare my results to data from the last 5 years of research. In addition, I will be comparing this data to results obtained from the hawksbill turtles nesting in Tobago.

 

Emma West

emmaHi I’m Emma! I’m in my 3rd year studying zoology. In Trinidad I hope to do my honours project on the leatherback turtles, looking at the sites they choose to make their nests. I’m so excited to go to a new country and see these amazing animals up close!