Cascade frogs and mosquito bites

Cascade frogs and mosquito bites

by Bryan Cardenas

This summer the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars at NAU have participated in conservation internships across the country. Their blogs give us a peek into what they’ve been up to. Check ’em out!

My eight week journey started off with prep work for our first expedition to 7 lakes. Our daily routine included getting familiar with the E2O (Earth 2 Ocean) Lab which we would be working in throughout the summer, we set up i-buttons which record the temperature of the habitats we would be studying, and once properly setting them up we would plasti dip to ensure they would be water proof for the elements. And during this process I ruined not one, but two pairs of pants and my hands were stained yellow through the next few days.

Our first expedition was to Lunch Lake but due to lots of snow on the ground we resorted to Deer Lake instead.

We hiked in, prepared with ice axes, and learned from the professionals themselves, Wendy and Amanda. They demonstrated how to use the tool and slide down the mountain. To make it down the mountain, we sat on our butts placed the ice axe parallel to our side, so it’s able to dig through the ice and control our way down. To my surprise it felt like riding a roller coaster with the wind whipping past my face. I quickly realized that my “waterproof” boots were not in fact waterproof, and by the end of the trip my feet were covered in blisters. Even though we didn’t make it to Lunch Lake, due to too much snow, it was still a useful trip because we learned from all these new experiences. We learned the small things on this trip; that makes the biggest difference.

After coming back from the first trip, we prepared more i-buttons for the upcoming trips so we could deploy them in microsites, which record temperatures in acceptable frog habitats. Anywhere we saw a frog we would record soil substrate, air temperature, and dimensions of the back, ceiling, and width.

The goal of this research project was to understand and have climate data of these locations. With the program Rstudio we were able to make the data come to life. I focused on frog rehydration.

The problem is climate change is slowly warming up the earth and this is an issue in many aspects in alpine situations. Lakes and ponds have more of a chance of drying up during low precipitation years, especially smaller ones. We used the mark recapture method going out into Seven Lakes basin and caught as many frogs as possible in three days. This is a popular method used to measure estimated population size. The Cascade frog is limited to these smaller ponds which are more susceptible to drying out because human caused trout stocking has made the larger lakes uninhabitable. Trout can and will eat egg masses and little tadpoles. Cascade frogs no longer lay eggs in the larger lakes. While surveying the ponds we found a number of dried ponds in the later trips of the summer. Many tadpoles died.

My project was the rehydration of agar models which was a control of how frogs gain their water mass (rehydration) if a frog lost up to 30% of its mass then it would desiccate. The more time the frogs were in the water the more hydrated they became.

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