August was a dark time for Dominica after it was badly hit by Hurricane Erika and Tropical Storm Danny before that. As a result the island was ravaged by floods and several bridges were destroyed, houses turned to rubble and 3 dozen people lost their lives. A very sad time for the nature island, very sad indeed.
But what does this mean for the mountain chicken frog, a species closely tied to the 365 different rivers in Dominica?
Well there can be no doubt that some frogs were killed in the hurricane, after seeing the damage first hand over the last few weeks i am certain of that. However, after 3 night surveys over the past two weeks it would initially appear that all is not doom and gloom. Several frogs have been found across 2 different sites, site that took a very heavy toll in the hurricane. While several does not sound like a lot, for a critically endangered from with a limited range such as the mountain chicken frog, it in fact is a sizable amount. More interesting than that is the fact that half of the frogs were found were in fact new to the project. I.e. had never been captured and measured since the project was set up several years ago. Which is fantastic news, even better news! These frogs were in fantastic health and showed no outward signs of the chytrid fungus, a fungus which is destroying frog populations across the globe.
While I cannot draw any real conclusions from these initial findings (there are several more survey sights across Dominica), it does look like a positive sign after such a devastating environmental issue. I will be sure to keep you posted as the findings unfold.
In other, non, frog based news I was fortunate enough to find 3 snakes during our field work. 2 Dominican Racers (Alsophis sibonius) and my absolute favourite type of snake, the Dominican Boa (Boa nebulosa) both of these snakes are only found on Dominica so this was a particular highlight for me.