The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Friday, March 5, 2010

Secretive Caecilian

One animal that you just maybe lucky enough to see at GVI Amazon, Ecuador is the caecilian. The name caecilian derives from the Latin word caecus, meaning "blind", referring to the small or sometimes non-existing eyes. Despite appearing quite worm like, caecilians are in fact a type of amphibian, along with the anurans (frogs and toads) and the urodeles (salamanders and newts). They lack legs, functional eyes and tail and the body is usually ringed in appearance. Terrestrial caecilians being fossorial can be found beneath leaf litter or rotten logs and may even be surface active in heavy rains but there are however also a number of aquatic species. Their foods include earthworms, termites and other burrowing invertebrates and they possess two rows of teeth in the upper jaw and one in the bottom, which are curved and sharp. Some specimens can be up to and over three feet in length. Not only are they found here in South America but also in Africa and Asia. The caecilians we have encountered here at Yachana have been found in the heavy rains that we have mainly in the wetter season but have also turned up a few times in the pitfall traps of our annual amphibian and reptile project. Those of you who have been lucky to see one of the secretive animals will know just how special and fascinating they are and any potential volunteers reading this will hopefully have a real desire to seek one out in the future!