Fieldwork: Darwin’s Frogs in Chile
PROFILE: Dr. Claudio Soto-Azat
SPECIES: Darwin’s frog
I work in a vast area of central, south and southern Chile and Argentina. The area I work over covers 1,250 km in length. Therefore transportation and long driving sessions are a rule. Central and Northern areas are not tough, and they were characterized naturally by a temperate beech forest, however nowadays this area has had a huge impact from cities, agriculture and the forestry industry, which has drastically modified the environment. South of Valdivia (Southern Chile), the forest gets very humid and cold, roads get very dirty and natural environments still dominate.
Especially in Southern Chile, there are the most beautiful landscapes. If you have a sunny day (very exceptionally), you may begin to think everything makes sense.
The vast majority of the time, conditions in Southern Chile are very tough. Lots of rain, sometimes spending a long time in tents, not having regular access to showers, toilets or comfortable place to sleep after a long days work.
If you have a sunny day (very exceptionally), you may begin to think everything makes sense.
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I work on the conservation of Darwin’s frog. They are infact two species, the Northern Darwin’s frog (R. rufum) and the Southern Darwin’s frog (R. darwinii). The first lives in the coastal range of Central and South Chile. The second inhabits the South and Argentina in both coastal areas and in the Andes. These are poorly known species and their populations have dramatically fallen in the last decades. Even worse, R. rufum has not been seen since 1978 and habitat destruction has been the most obvious cause of this possible extinction. Some populations of R. darwinii still persist in Southern Chile, where environment conditions are tough. Therefore, in our spirit to understand and conserve these species, we undertake expeditions to record and monitor surviving populations.
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