Research by former lab member David Burkart is featured on the cover of the December issue of Animal Conservation, which also publishes an article from David's M.S. thesis. The photograph illustrates a brooding female of Gastrotheca excubitor and her recently hatched newborn froglet from the highlands of Manu National Park in Peru. Embryos undergo direct development within the eggs, which are carried by the female inside a specialized, sealed dorsal pouch. We previously published a blog post regarding David's research on the role of skin peptides and symbiotic bacteria as defenses against fungal disease in these frogs. This research is also in the SIU News this week. Congratulations David!
Another lab contribution was published this week in the journal Zootaxa, describing a new arboreal species of gymnophthalmid lizard (spectacled lizards). This is a fairly large group of lizards distributed in Central and South America, most species are ground-dwelling and inhabit the forest leaf litter, rocky areas or mosses and grasslands at high elevations, but several species are semi-aquatic and can dive, such as species of Potamites. The new species, named Euspondylus excelsum, however is arboreal and was discovered when the lizard's habitat was flooded by a hydroelectric project in the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Central Peru. Additional surveys in the area surrounding the flooded area failed to find lizards on the ground; instead all captured lizards were found on leaves and other arboreal microhabitats. Photograph by Lesly Luján.
Doctoral candidate Alex Shepack and collaborators have published a review paper on the salamander-killing fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) in the journal EcoHealth (available here). The study reviews current research on Bsal, which is currently threatening native salamanders in Europe. This virulent fungus has yet to be detected in the Americas, and multiple efforts are under way to prevent its introduction in North America, which supports one of the most diverse salamander fauna. The article also explains the role of the Bsal Task Force, risks associated with the spread of Bsal, and policy measures proposed or enacted to date.
We are excited to announce that our lab is going tropical! We will be moving next January to Florida International University in Miami. The lab will join the Department of Biological Sciences at the main university campus in Miami (Modesto A. Maidique campus). More updates will be posted soon.
News from the lab