Field Technician - Hilo, Hawaii
This summer (July-August), I was one of two undergrad field technicians for a graduate student from the University of Maryland. Our team stayed in Hilo, Hawaii and studied the invasive frog Eleutherodactylus coqui, which calls loudly (>90 dB) and in great abundance at night. The coqui are generalist predators that feed on a wide variety of invertebrates. Our objective was to set up and conduct experiments to gather data on the predation habits of the coqui. This included fieldwork (frog capture, insect collection and foliage surveys) and labwork (gut analysis, insect identification and isotope preparation). Hawaii, a haven for rare species found nowhere else on earth, is also a hotspot for invaders. While some are indisputably destructive, the ecological impact of the coqui is an open question, one which our research hopes to address. What, where, and how much are the coqui eating? Do these diminutive frogs have a hand in the demise of native species, or do they prefer to consume invasive pests? The answers have important implications for environmental policy and will help deepen our understanding of invasion ecology.