As we transitioned into the rainy season, we noticed a marked difference in the species that we encountered at the MLC, especially amongst amphibians and reptiles. Many species rely on seasonal changes for their activity patterns, reproductive cycles and feeding habits.
We have encountered three Smooth-fronted Caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus) this month – one of them being the resident caiman in the wetlands which we can usually see at night, in addition to an adult caiman in one of the streams leaving the wetlands, and a baby in a stream on T1. This is exciting news, as we rarely come across caimans other than the resident in the wetlands. With these recent observations, we can be sure that their population is healthy and thriving. Smooth-fronted Caimans are the smallest caiman species in the Madre de Dios region, reaching a maximum length of only 1.6 meters. However, they are still fearsome predators within the ecosystems that they inhabit.
Along with the rain, we have also noticed an increase in turtle sightings. This month we have encountered several Twist-necked Turtles (Platemys platycephala). This species is rarely seen during the dry season, as they spend most of their time hidden under the leaf litter. However, in the rainy season they are much more active, and can often be seen in shallow streams, ponds, and even in muddy puddles on the trails. For these turtles, mating occurs during the rainy season and the females only lay one egg.
By continuing to survey amphibians and reptiles in our long-term monitoring projects, we are gaining valuable information about their ecology, differences between the rainy and dry seasons, and population recovery across the different types of regenerating forests.
MSc. Joseph Oakley