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Finding Bolitoglossa

MonarchzMan

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Hello all,

I'm going to be in Panama for the summer this year working on my thesis project on poison dart frogs, and among my personal goals is to find and photograph Bolitoglossa salamanders. I've been hoping to find them the last several trips, but haven't found any yet.

My biggest issue is that I don't know the habitat for these salamanders. My guess is that they occur in higher elevation areas where it is cooler. I know that my professor has found them in bromeliad axials. While most of my thesis work is going to be in the caribbean lowlands, I will be getting into the cloud forest for a week or so, and if I can, I'd really like to search for some of them.

So that's all I have as far as finding Bolitoglossa: high elevation and bromeliads. That seems pretty broad to find these salamanders. Does anyone have any clues to help ensure my finding them on this trip? Thanks!
 

Kaysie

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JP, I can't help much. But I wish you the best of luck. Even though the rainforest doesn't really do it for me, I'm glad you're turning to the dark side of salamanders. I told you they were cooler than dart frogs. lol.
 

MonarchzMan

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Hah, no, not turning to the dark side. Bolitoglossa has always been a goal of mine. Same with the caecillians. Red-Eyed Tree Frogs and Pumilio are great, but I'm looking for something new ;) If it makes you feel any better, I'll also be looking for Oophaga speciosus in the same area :p
 

taherman

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Try walking along trails or streams at night, check the top surface of leaves of broad leaved plants, particularly heliconias and banana-like plants. They will often sit at the ends of branches or large leaves, presumably waiting for prey. Also check similar low vegetation for smaller individuals out walking at night.

During the day check the axils of bromeliads, and in the axils of heliconias. There might be some seasonality to their activity, I've seen B. schizodactyla and B. colonnea in Panama in Jan and Feb.

Good luck!
Tim
 
T

tylototriton

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The Bolitoglossas i've found have all been on leaves on damper days. We usually find them after rains. That being said, i've only found 2 (although 1 per trip isn't bad). I have an idea that may or many not work. Try collecting leaf litter and looking for them. I suspect that if you collected and picked through leaf litter on days when the air was drier but the litter was still moist you might find them. As for elevational restraints, I know they are present at both lowland and pre-montane forests in Costa Rica. You will certainly not find them in dry areas though. The moister and cooler areas are better.

Best of Luck
Alex
 

taherman

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Also Oedipina are supposedly under rocks along streams, though I flipped many and never found one. I've seen/found probably 20 or so schizodactyla, and only one (very small) colonnea in situ (though other people I was with found more). Not sure about the leaf litter idea, as that niche is more likely to be caecilians and frogs down there. However, you never know what you might find...I would not be disappointed with a caecilian!

Also I've never found one in a bromeliad in Panama, though I didn't use the prescribed method of holding them upside down and shaking them like crazy. Much easier on damp nights when they are just out in the open.

Good luck!
 
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tylototriton

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I'm not really certain if my leaf litter idea would work. I've spoken with some people who think that Bolitoglossids spend time in the leaf litter, so it would certainly be interesting to see. As for caecilians, the only times I have found them they were in the middle of a clearing after rains. They were found sneaking out from under the galletas (tree cookies that make up the paths). I think taherman is right, just pound the trails and keep your eyes open, thats your best bet.

Alex
 

asnyder

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I spent some time in Honduras and will be spending two more months there this summer doing herpetological surveys. My best luck with finding Bolitoglossids was during night walks especially when it rained during the late afternoon. I never actually found any on the ground they were all on the ends of leaves/branches up to head level (possibly higher but I didn't notice). I was at relatively higher elevations (at least 1800m) and the temperatures were moderate but not very high. Granted I was in the Cusuco cloud forest and the ones I found were endemic to the area so they may differ behaviorally in other regions. This year I am going to set up extensive pit fall traps in hopes of finding species that are generally more terrestrial.
 
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