Editorial

This year Living World has reached a major milestone in that we are now published online. This enables Living World to be more widely accessible and, even more importantly, to be searchable online through Google Scholar and similar services. Reaching the global natural history community in this manner has been one of the goals of Living World for several years. It has been largely through the efforts of the Club’s president, Mr. Kris Sookdeo, that our goal has been achieved. Living World is now available in two formats—the familiar printer-friendly PDF as well as a fully searchable webpage format. Past issues are also being reformatted where possible to make them accessible online as well.


Our 2015 Guest Editorial presented the Club’s position on hunting in Trinidad and Tobago, stressing the need for sound management decisions based upon reliable monitoring of the species targeted. In this issue we continue to recommend such monitoring, and we build on this approach with a research paper and two nature notes that focus on the use of trail cameras (“camera trapping”) as a means of monitoring the presence and activities of our mammalian fauna.

The research paper, by Mike Rutherford and Kimberly Chu Foon, describes the activity patterns of the mammals of Spring Hill in the Arima Valley. Mike has also provided a nature note demonstrating the existence of a small population of Capybara in the Caroni River basin in Trinidad. Kris Sookdeo’s paper describes his observations on the mammals of Cat’s Hill in southeastern Trinidad; Kris also provided us with our cover image. The results of these studies have already demonstrated that our mammalian fauna is in better shape than many had feared and that their populations can be effectively monitored. We hope that others will follow this lead and will conduct additional studies leading towards a better understanding of the impact of hunting regulations and other policies on the populations of mammals in Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition to the above, this issue of Living World contains six research papers, four nature notes, and one report. We cover a wide range of animal taxa including insects, arachnids, molluscs, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Unfortunately, we received no manuscripts on plant studies for this issue.

Matthew Cock’s paper provides an account of the hesperid skippers of the genus Staphylus. We present two short studies on social insects, one on foraging by bees, by Donna-Marie Alexander and Christopher Starr, and the other, by Andrea A. Scobie and Christopher Starr, on colony founding in the social wasp Mischocyttarus baconi, with possible implications for the origin of sociality. We include an account of the spiders of St. Eustatius, by Joe Morpeth, Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal, and Christopher Starr; this paper is part of a series describing the spider fauna of the eastern Caribbean islands. Staying with the Arachnida, the paper by Rakesh Bhukal provides the first record of autotomy in the scorpion Ananteris cussinii; autotomy is the phenomenon in which an individual can cast off part of its anatomy to distract a predator and thus escape.

Ryan Mohammed and Lanya Fanovich provided a glimpse into the life of the original inhabitants of Trinidad with their account of the molluscs found during excavations at the Red House in Port of Spain. Their research suggests that the Red House was built on an Amerindian midden.

A search by Ruth Shepherd, Paul Hoskisson, and Roger Downie for chytrid fungal infections in Trinidad’s frogs yielded no cases of infection. Good news, but no reason for complacency.
In their paper on Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman, Saiyaad Ali and his co-authors share their discovery of not just one individual but a population of this species in Trinidad. Their paper also provides a record and photograph of the rare Double-striped Water Snake Thamnodynastes ramonriveroi.

Turning to birds, we present an account by Mike Rutherford of Oilbird predation by a Common Black Hawk at Cumaca Cave. We also present the Thirteenth Report of the Trinidad and Tobago Bird Status and Distribution Committee, provided by Martyn Kenefick. The report of this committee identifies as the highlight of the birding year the discovery three Amethyst Woodstar hummingbirds in Trinidad, the first of which was in the editor’s garden. This discovery increases to 481 the total number of birds recorded in Trinidad and Tobago.

-Graham White

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