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The Woods Upcoming Project: Understanding The Ecosystem And Importance Of The Docu-Series

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

In this blog update, we will focus on the plants, animals, and the docu-series that will showcase the lives of these organisms. In blog #1 of this category, we discussed the history of this project and gave you details about parts of the ecosystem within this project. When we say ecosystem, we mean it. One of the most challenging aspects of keeping frogs and toads as pets is keeping the same species with others of its kind in a group. Keeping different species together is far more complicated and usually leads to all the animals suffering and declining. Many knowledgeable keepers keep mixed species, but they are more outliers than an average joe in terms of what is likely to happen when someone keeps frogs and toads as pets. While we do not discourage keepers from mixed-species setups, we do not support it. We believe if you have to ask, you probably should not do it.

Getting back to our project, this is a mixed species setup. We have spent years in the research and development stage, unlike before, doing far less research before attempting to keep different species together. Both species are target species for our conservation. We have kept both species for a very long time. Both American toads and wood frogs live and compete in the same habitat. Frogs and toads of the same species compete for resources, and the same is true for mixed species setups. The competition is one reason why most mixed-species frog setups fail; because pet keepers do not understand the nature of competition among multiple animals for resources like food, water, better living space. Purchasing a large enclosure was a necessity for keeping a mixed-species small group of four together.

Moving forward from talking about the details of mixed-species habitats; The focus is on creating an enriching experience for both the frogs and toads as authentic as possible. American toads and wood frogs we observed in mountainous terrain, suburban neighborhoods surrounded by woodlands, peat bogs, and forests to best get an understanding of what both species need to thrive. In a suburban ecosystem, both species consume invasive and naturalized prey items. Some examples are: European earwigs, greenhouse millipedes, Asian stink bugs, and even naturalized bees like honey and leafcutting bees. One of the goals for the docu-series will be to explain the importance of the native anurans eating invasive and naturalized invertebrates. We have chosen different feeder insects to mimic the diets as best we can to include native prey like carpenter ants and hornworms and to offer non-native substitutes like the canyon isopod (Southwest US) and banded cricket (South America). These pet store feeders take the place of some invasive and naturalized prey both amphibians would see in the suburban ecosystems. We hope the diverse and high quantity of food will be stimulating and nutritious for both species.

The environment of the main enclosure will artificially mimic a few different habitats. The goal is to replicate a suburban woodland as best as possible. One creative and not natural addition to this environment will be creating a bog to favor a carnivorous pitcher plant, cranberries, and other plants. Most bogs are a great distance away from suburban areas. The closest bogs with both plants written above are nearly 35 minutes away from the suburban woodlands. Building two habitats that would not in our understanding "meet in the wild" at least in the locations that inspired the project display, a realistic environment. Building both environments together; gives us the benefit of showcasing our favorite features between a suburban woodland and a peat bog. Both environments experience nearly identical dramatic weather like upland woodlands and peat bogs receiving heavy fog at night in the spring and fall. Some of the weather we will attempt to replicate has a goal: to create the best artificial experience possible.

The weather replication has been one area we have researched and observed in both environments, the bog; and the woods. We have been fascinated with the idea of trying to create a thunderstorm inside the enclosure with wind gusts, thunder sounds, and artificial lightning. With a few years of research and development, we have been impatiently waiting to try this. Fog storms are another common weather event in both environments. We have worked on this as well. Other weather conditions we are trying to replicate inside the large enclosure are a full moon, cold fronts, warm fronts, droughts, and windy days. The weather has a crucial role in the behavior of the animals. Another goal for the docu-series is to explain the importance weather has for these animals.

The docu series will focus on a female American toad. Ace's experiences as the environment around her change along with the seasons will drive the series. Ace is one personable toad, and she makes for a great star for this story because she is very bold and unafraid of the camera. Her importance to the narrator, AAron, will be explained in great detail in the docu-series and bonus footage surrounding it. Ace; will be featured as she interacts with the male (Pious), how she responds to living with the wood frogs (Oracle and Esther), how Ace adapts to the changing environment, and everyone's favorite, how she hunts different prey items. All frogs and toads will appear in the project. Oracle, the male wood frog, will also be prioritized as a featured co-star contrasting the two different species and the differences they display differing in gender. Another important factor will be the purple pitcher plant. How will the frogs and toads interact with it? How many inverts will the pitcher plant steal from the frogs? How will the pitcher plant adapt to the changing environment? The answer to these questions will become clear whenever the docu-series comes out.

The docu-series looks to be around ten episodes, but a lot could change by the time it is filmed and edited. Emphasis was put on the camera gear. In the last blog post, we discussed the GoPro Hero 10 and Blackmagic Pocket 6K Cinema Camera as the primary cameras to film the project with the possibility of adding another camera if the opportunity is right. We are hoping to shoot with as high quality as possible. This docu-series has the highest budget for any project, so you can expect it to look incredible. We have been securing relationships with some musicians to use their songs in the project. We have not purchased exclusive music for the series, but we are not opposed to the idea. The soundtrack will be more cinematic with more orchestra-type music. Aside from music, various businesses and nonprofits will promote the project. We will keep the list of names quiet until the time is closer, but this project has its sponsors and supporters. We have many tasks to accomplish before we can begin filming for the project, but we have most of the planning and research finished while we wait.

What are your thoughts on the project and the complex details surrounding it?

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