Are you a student looking for a reptile and amphibian research project for your dissertation? Or a recent graduate looking to increase your field experience?
Research with Indigo and contribute to long term conservation efforts in Guatemala by joining a reptile and amphibian research project. You’ll survey in multiple habitat types including agricultural fields, river banks, pine-oak forest, and cloud forest in Alta Verapaz, assessing the differences in the behaviour of reptiles, as well as species composition and diversity, between these varying habitats.
The reptile species assemblage here includes several endemic and rare species such as Guatemalan coffee snake, yellow-blotched palm pitviper, cloud forest parrot snake, and brilliant alligator lizard.
The cloud forests are also home to several species of critically endangered frogs including: Pokomchi spikethumb frog, Quecchi spikethumb frog, Alta Verapaz spikethumb frog, montane robber frog, and Xucaneb robber frog. Other amphibians include Müller’s climbing salamander, black-eyed treefrogs, and Northern glassfrogs.
Brilliant alligator lizard.
Guatemalan coffee snake.
RESEARCH WITH INDIGO
Yellow-blotched palm pitviper.
Research with Indigo and discover the mysterious cloud forests of Alta Verapaz and contribute to longterm reptile and amphibian research projects.
As a Volunteer Researcher with Indigo, for the first 2 weeks you’ll be involved in both terrestrial and riparian surveys for reptiles and amphibians. You will have the opportunity to:
- Develop your field herpetology skills,
- Evolve your understanding of reptile & amphibian biology,
- Learn ethical & respectful animal handling methods, and
- Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in the Cloud Forests of Alta Verapaz,
- Develop a deeper appreciation of the amazing creatures that we share this planet with.
For the remainder of your research time with us, you’ll have the opportunity to explore your own research interests as part of your own career and academic development.
We aim to assign each Volunteer Researcher their own project. These are all designed with subsequent publication in mind. Our team will work with you to help analyse the project data and craft manuscripts for submission to scientific journals.
Collect and analyse population data from amphibians found in a selection of remaining cloud forest fragments and agroecology areas.
The objectives of this project are to better understand how cloud forest amphibians recolonise and utilize agroecology habitats and to build evidence of successful habitat restoration and highlight areas for improvement to habitat management for the benefit of wildlife.
Amphibian project highlights
- Gain understanding of the ecology of cloud forest amphibians
- Work with endangered and endemic species
Collect and analyse population data from reptiles found in a selection of remaining cloud forest fragments and agroecology areas.
The objectives of this project are to better understand how cloud forest reptiles recolonise and utilize agroecology habitats and to build evidence of successful habitat restoration and highlight areas for improvement to habitat management for the benefit of wildlife.
Reptile project highlights
- Gain understanding of the ecology of cloud forest reptiles
- Work with endangered and endemic species
Explore the behavioural ecology of rarely seen cloud forest snake species.
This project aims to increase our knowledge of the ecology and behaviour of multiple snake species. Through careful behavioural observations you will glimpse into the secretive lives of snakes and collect data about the habitat and environmental requirements of several little known snakes that will aid in their conservation.
Snake Behaviour project highlights
- Gain understanding of tropical snake behaviour
- Work with endemic and little known snake species
Your questions about reptile and amphibian research projects answered
DO I NEED RESEARCH EXPERIENCE?
Our Conservation Research Projects are open to anyone with an interest in the natural world, who wants to make a positive contribution to conservation.
Which Species are found in the cloud forest?
This area is highly biodiverse with over 50 species of amphibians and reptiles. 100’s of birds from eagles and hawks, to hummingbirds and trogons – even the quetzal has been heard here!
Other striking species in alta verapaz
Since 2014 Indigo Field Teams have recorded a total of 36 species of reptiles and amphibians. Among some of the most striking are alligator lizards, helmeted iguanas, and palm pitvipers.
Research Location of community cloud forest conservation
Our expedition visits the educational and research facility of Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) located in a secluded valley a few kilometres east of Coban, in the region of Alta Verapaz.
research project cloud forest Accommodation
A comfortable shared dorm awaits you, with its own bathroom and even hot water heated by the wood burning stoves in the kitchen. Wake up each morning to a stunning sunrise over the Xucaneb Mountains as the morning mist rises revealing the breath-taking cloud forest.
research project Cost Includes
From the time you are picked up by the Indigo Team in Guatemala, all in-country transport, accommodation, food, water & field training is provided! All you need to do is cover your flight to Guatemala City, grab your travel insurance, and cover any extra sundries.
Research Project Cost
2021 research project Dates
5 July to 30 August. 8 August to 30 September.
research project Places
Small research project groups. Places limited to 12.
The Quecchi are the largest of the contemporary Mayan groups in Guatemala. While they like to keep to themselves, they are also very welcoming and you will leave having made many new friends. Typical of Mayans, the Quecchi of Alta Verapaz are renowned for their rich and beautiful weavings, which often depict animals such as deer and of course the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird.
Outside of the bigs towns, like Cobán and Santa Cruz, most Quecchi still live in small villages high in the mountains, and rely on subsistence farming as a way of providing for their families.
Since 2014 we have surveyed the populations of amphibians and reptiles at Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC), an organisation committed to alleviating poverty and protecting forests through education, and reforestation.
We have found 53 species of amphibians and reptiles during our conservation surveys, as part of our amphibian project to support ecological improvements to agriculture.
Many of the amphibians and reptiles at CCFC are endemic to the mountains of the Central Highlands and are considered in danger of extinction.
The mountains have a pleasant climate for most of the year, with temperatures generally reaching a maximum of 28 degrees centigrade on warm days. Most mornings start wrapped in clouds, something well worth getting out of bed to witness. Usually it rains for about an hour in the afternoons, especially in the rainy season, but expect the clouds to come in at any time of day.
The combination of regular rain followed by sun make for a spectacularly green and luscious forest, and a paradise for biodiversity.
Explore Alta Verapaz
Over the last few decades much of the forest in Alta Verapaz has been lost to ever expanding agriculture. This expansion has been driven in part by the highest population growth rates in Guatemala and Central America. As the forest is lost, the tree’s no longer form the clouds from which the habitat gets its name. This means the land tends to dry out and crops fail, causing more deforestation.
Indigo Expeditions work closely with Community Cloud Forest Conservation to help better understand how agroecology practices can be used to both alleviate poverty and provide viable habitat for endangered wildlife. We believe that be working in partnership with nature we can provide for this, and future, generations.
I want to thank you very much for this amazing (I hope not once in a lifetime) experience. I am also very grateful for your patience and teaching me and sharing so much invaluable knowledge with me.
This adventure will certainly have a huge positive effect in my career for a herpetologist. I still can’t believe how many wonderful and unique species we were able to see and how much did I learn from them.
I wish you all the best in your current and future projects, and as a Guatemalan, thank you very much for what you are doing for this country and its unique nature.
We all knew after the brilliant experience I had last year in Petén that I’d be back in Guatemala with you. Due to your efforts I have had the trip of a lifetime.
My time in the field so far has been spectacular. I have seen and learnt so much, made good friends, and will be leaving with a great set of data and the confidence that should lead to a brilliant dissertation.
It is a shame these two months are drawing to a close but I can’t wait to share the stories of the wonderful summer of herping.