Glass frogs in Sora

Historically, Sora was a great place to find golden frogs.  We can’t find any now but at least we are finding a little amphibian life.  This glass frog (Sachatamia albomaculata) was guarding his tiny little eggs. I named this one Mateo Patricio.

Washed out








During our tadpole transects we were caught by an incredible rain storm.  We made it back to the car only to find that the road was completely cut off by a swelling Rio Maria. We waited in the car (for what seemed like forever) for the rains to subside so we could safely return home. The news in El Valle was that an impatient taxi was swept downstream.

Isolating the pathogen

Part of Project Atelopus involves isolating the pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, called “Bd” for short) that is causing the amphibian declines in Panama. Getting pathogen specimens is critical for studying the disease. After several late nights with the microscope, we have two new isolates collected from the frogs that we found dying in the streams of Rio Maria.

Finding dead frogs

Our first transects and we’re already finding dead frogs, which is quite distressing.  This is the time of year when temperatures and the rains make conditions perfect for a chytridiomycosis outbreak.

Up to El Valle

We headed up to El Valle to visit El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC). This lovely town, nestled in the misty mountains, was traditionally a favorite location for finding golden frogs in the town streams.  Today, however, most tourists will only find hand-carved Atelopus figurines at the town market.

Our Lab Space

Our offices are next to the paleontologists. We’re hoping that simply a coincidence, not strategic.

Project Atelopus will be based at Tupper and the location of our office is next to the STRI paleontologists. For the sake of the golden frogs, we’re hoping that is just a coincidence, not strategic.

Checking in

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) has been supporting research on tropical biodiversity since the 1920s. We took the day to get keys, identification badges and pose for pictures in front of the lab.


We arrived in Panama City in a tropical down pour. The city has changed considerably but the rains are warm and familiar.