During 2007 and 2008 I spent a year living, working and researching with the Kichwa community, San José de Payamino, Ecuador. The territory of San José de Payamino consists of 27,000 hectares of primary lowland tropical rainforest in south-eastern Ecuador. The community has formed a conservation and sustainable development partnership, the Payamino Project, with Zoos Go Wild and Aalborg Zoo in Denmark.

Whilst working as a research station manager for the Payamino Project, I also undertook research for my masters thesis looking at the previously unstudied levels of amphibian diversity in the area. Work in remote areas with difficult terrain, high biodiversity and a restricted timeframe can make diversity assessments difficult. Whilst carrying out a standard amphibian species richness assessment using night transects, I also trialled a new rapid assessment technique previously used for birds. The species list technique allows opportunistic encounters to be standardised in terms of effort. This means all available time can be used for recording species without “wasted” data that can’t be used for analysis, whilst still being comparable between sites. The species list technique offers a new efficient rapid assessment technique for tropical rainforest amphibians. For further information please see:

Muir, A.P. & Muir, M.C.A. (2011) A New Rapid Assessment Technique for Amphibians: Introduction of the Species List Technique from San José de Payamino, Ecuador. Herpetological Review, 42, 149- 151. Download a copy

During my time in Ecuador I recorded 64 species of amphibians (see images of some of them here)and saw a host of other biodiversity. I led a student herpetology group from the University of Glasgow during their six week stay, including collecting data for undergraduate theses. I learnt Spanish, the traditions and culture of the Kichwa community and how to live and work in remote environments. My enthusiasm for research and conservation of amphibians was formed during my time here.

Nyctimantis rugiceps

Hypsiboas geographicus

Osteocephalus cabrerai

Edalhorina perezi