What is a TH expedition?

Science | Scientific expeditions

Roughly 50% of our team member's existence and 60% of our funds are spent on field expeditions. We do this not only because we feel it is the most important step in the creation of biological knowledge, but also because we love it. The reason we love expeditions done in the TH way are many, but here are the top nine.

Jeep stuck in mud

1. Remote locations. Working in remote localities means visiting areas of the planet few other people have explored, and this increases the chances of discovering new species or finding rare and endangered ones.

Expedition team insitu

2. Team work and camaraderie. A combination of different talents (local and international biologists, photojournalists and videographers) and different personalities is what makes TH expeditions an enriching experience to all members.

Local guide holding a turtle hatchling

3. Community involvement. For a TH expedition to make sense, the team must include and benefit members of local communities. In such a setting, scientists benefit from local knowledge and vice versa.

Researcher sampling in swamp

4. Fieldwork. It is work and it is done in the field, regardless of torrential rains, bloodsucking insects, mud, heat, cold, and lack of electricity. But we still love it.

Researcher gathering field data about a frog

5. Data gathering. It is not science if there is no data gathering. At each expedition, field data includes identification, date and time, geographic coordinates, ecological information, weather conditions and sound recordings.

Researchers taking blood samples from a snake

6. Sampling. In Tropical Herping, the results of scientific expeditions are used for studies in systematics and evolutionary biology of amphibians and reptiles. As such, whole specimens, photographic vouchers, tissue and venom samples are taken back to the lab. All of this is done in compliance with local environmental regulations.

Researcher extracting DNA in the field

7. Labwork. Yes, in the field! With increasing frequency, Tropical Herping's field expeditions involve a component of labwork in the field, particularly DNA extraction.

Researcher analyzing DNA data

8. Computational analysis. Running DNA barcoding (for species identification) and phylogenetic analyses (those depicting evolutionary relationships) in the field is simple and can provide valuable insights into whether more biological samples are needed when there is still time to collect them.

New species of snake photographed on bromeliad

9. Discovery. The most exciting part of an expedition is the discovery of something new, like a new species. But this is only important if it is translated into action. For this reason Tropical Herping's expeditions always translate into published research.

All of these reasons make TH's expeditions fun and meaningful. However, none of this would be possible without your support. You can help us indirectly, by joining our herping tours and photo safaris, or directly by joining our scientific expeditions.