A lab contribution is published this month in the Annual Reviews of Environment and Resources. The article assesses recent literature highlighting advances in our knowledge of amphibian biodiversity, the extent to which it is being lost, and the drivers of extinction. Nearly one-quarter of all known amphibian species have been described over the past 10 years, and whereas this surge in species descriptions poses challenges for evaluating threat status of each species, it is also an opportunity to ameliorate conservation programs. Preventing a "chytrid déjà vu" will be a major challenge in light of recent declines in populations of European salamanders caused by a recently described chytrid fungus. You can request a copy of the article here.
David Burkart defended his Master's thesis last Friday, November 6th, titled "Understanding chytridiomycosis resistance by investigating the cutaneous defense mechanisms of marsupial frogs". The presentation in the Auditorium of LS3 was very well attended, in addition to the public and committee members Drs. Laurie Achenbach and Robin Warne, another member of the committee, Dr. Vance Vredenburg followed from San Francisco, and collaborator Vicky Flechas followed from Bogota. Congratulations David!
Peruvian president Ollanta Humala signed today the creation of a new, stunning national park in Peru's Amazon forest and along the border with Brazil -- Sierra del Divisor. The area is locally known as Sina Jonibaon Manan, or "land of the brave people", and is a series of small mountains, ridges, valleys and ancient, cone-shaped volcanoes surrounded by Amazonian lowland rainforest. It is one of the most remarkable and beautiful landscapes in the western Amazon.
A rapid inventory led by the Field Museum in 2005, along with many Peruvian researchers and organizations, documented the exceptional biological and cultural richness of this unique region. Herpetologists Moises Barbosa de Sousa and Carlos Rivera found 67 species of frogs, 1 salamander, 21 snakes, 17 lizards 2 turtles and 1 caiman in less than 3 weeks of field work. Thus, it is likely that the area contains a far larger number of species, likely exceeding 100/class for both amphibians and reptiles.
News from the lab