Thursday, July 31, 2014

Interns study effects of pesticides on amphibians at IRRI

Four students from Northern Arizona University (NAU), USA, concluded their 7 -week study on whether different forms of pesticide use affected amphibian populations in IRRI rice fields and whether amphibians act as indicators for health among people living in rice farming communities.

The scholars were supervised at IRRI by Dr. Grant Singleton, principal scientist and coordinator of the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP) Project. Dr. Sarah Beebout, CORIGAP soil scientist, guided them in choosing field sites where environmental indicators are measured. The students conducted daily and nightly surveys for adult and breeding amphibians at sites that use both chemical and non-chemical pest control mechanisms.

“The experience at IRRI was refreshing as it allowed me to see how science is conducted and comes together, coming from a field of chemistry in the USA, to something here that has a strong natural history focus,” says Jonathan Credo (photo above). Mr. Credo studied tadpole diversity and development among different rice paddy pest control mechanisms.

Brittni Howard, an anthropologist, observed and interviewed farmers in nearby towns on which species they collected, how they are prepared for consumptions, who consumes them, and how often. “I learned not only about Filipino culture but about IRRI, which was a phenomenal experience, especially doing a project from the bottom-up with international scientists,” shares Ms. Howard.
Joseph Landavaso, who worked on adult frog population parameters and diversity, found the collaboration with IRRI staff remarkable, and was impressed by the resilience of the people after the destruction caused by Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun).

“It was a little different at first, adjusting to the work and talking with people,” describes Marsha Bitsui, who studied the effects of agricultural treatment mechanisms on the amphibians’ vocalization. “Now I really want to stay at IRRI.”

“The combined efforts of IRRI researchers and the students have provided us with a strong foundation for future work, and I look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration,” says Prof. Catherine Propper, adviser of the interns from NAU Department of Biological Sciences. The project was funded by the Minority Health International Research Training Project of NAU and the National Institutes of Health, USA.

Sampling tadpoles 

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