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Two Thousand Models and Ready for the Field!

I think it’s time for another update as the one after this may be a little time coming. I spent the last two and a half weeks making 2084 clay models. This involved pouring clay that had been heated up in a crock pot into silicone molds, letting it cool, pop out the clay frogs, cleaning them up, and then painting them. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, do it 2000 times. Making the models actually went pretty quickly, although I was not nearly meticulous enough to reduce my time having to clean up the frogs after I popped them out of the molds. There was clay overflow that I would have to clean off with a scalpel. It was easy enough, but it really took a toll on my neck. After about a week, I started popping pain pills like Tic-Tacs. So I am quite pleased to be finished with making the models.

I had originally planned on placing models in Watagans National Park first (using 2000 models) and then head south to Victoria to work in Croajingolong National Park. I chose these two areas because frogs occur there, but the color patterns vary in the two regions. In Watagans, the Pseudophryne that occur there are either red-backed or brown. There might be some frogs that have orange on their heads, but unlikely. In Croajingolong (another 2000 frogs), frogs will range from brown to brown with yellow armpits, and perhaps even have yellow heads. I want to see how predators vary in their selection in the two regions.

But research is mostly about being able to think on your feet. Not necessarily actually doing science. I had originally planned on making 4000 models, but the amount of time I would need to make them would be prohibitive. My solution was to make enough for one site, and then plan on reusing the models in the second site. Because the models are so small, I would not be able to reuse models if they were attacked. But I am expecting a 10-25% attack rate, so I should still have plenty of models for the second site. The second bump was that I was planning on using a University vehicle to get to the Watagans, but found out that a Uni vehicle would not be available until next week, which I cannot wait for. So I am going to rent a car and drive down to Croajingolong first and get those transects out of the way before coming back to Watagans. This would ultimately work out better because if I do need to make models, I could go to the university and make more.

On Thursday, I am going to drive down to Croajingolong and hopefully only need a week to set the transects before I head back to Watagans. If all goes according to plan, I should be able to finish this experiment in two weeks, which would give me four days to do what I would like. If I can stick to that plan, I would like to get to Brisbane and Beerwah before I head to Cairns on August 9.

As a result, I’m going to be in the middle of the Bush for a while and will not likely have access to internet to update the blog or Facebook page. You can still (and I’d love to hear from you) contact me directly using my satellite communicator. As long as I have access to the sky, I should be able to hear from you. Keep an eye out for updates from my communicator. I’ll be Facebooking/Tweeting as I go so I can bring you along!

EAPSI stands for East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes which is the fellowship offered by the National Science Foundation that brought me here.

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