The FIU Latin American and Caribbean Center awarded Tinker Graduate Research Awards to PhD students Isabel and Gustavo to support their fieldwork in the Andes and Central America, respectively. Congratulations to both of them!
A team of researchers has discovered a new species of lizard in the montane forest of Huánuco Department in Peru. The team, led by Germán Chávez, collected three specimens of the new terrestrial lizard during a small field survey in June 2018. The team has named the new species Selvasaura candesi, honouring CANDES, a Peruvian organization that supported this research.
The discovery of Selvasaura candesi is significant because it expands the understanding of the neotropical lizards of the subfamily Cercosaurinae.
The western side of the eastern Andes in northern Peru has been poorly explored. However, the pacification process starting in the early 2000s has allowed scientists to explore the region. The discovery of Selvasaura candesi in the montane forest of Huánuco Department in Peru highlights the potential for more new species discoveries in this region.
The Peruvian team used morphological and genetic evidence to support the recognition of Selvasaura candesi as a new species. They also suggests that an integrative taxonomy approach is a critical tool to identify Selvasaura lizards.
This new discovery of Selvasaura candesi contributes to our understanding of the diversity of this genus, and highlights the need for further exploration in poorly explored areas. The findings of this study have been published in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.
Chávez, G., L. A. Garcia-Ayachi, A. Catenazzi. 2023. A new species of Microteiid Lizard (Gymnophthalmidae, Cercosaurini, Selvasaura) from a remote area in the Peruvian Andes. Evolutionary Systematics 7: 123-132.
Our collaborative study on Ranavirus in Colombia (see a previous blog post here), led by collaborator and first author Vicky Flechas (in the picture holding a copy of the newspaper) was featured on the front page of one of Colombia's most influential newspapers, El Espectador. The newspaper article reports the main findings of the study, along with extracts from interviews to Vicky and Alessandro. The study found Ranavirus in 14 of 274 individuals from 8 of 41 sampled localities, including highland and lowland sites. Little is known about the distribution and consequences of Ranavirus infection in tropical mountains and forests, where emergent diseases such as Ranavirus and chytridiomycosis threaten amphibian biodiversity. Frog species richness is highest in the humid slopes of the Andes, and Colombia is one of the countries with the highest number of amphibian species.
Cara received an Honorable Mention for her research proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Although not funded (so close!), the mention indicates the reviewers and NSF officers highly rated her proposal. Congratulations Cara!
Isabel and Alessandro gave talks at the Segundo Simposio Peruano de Herpetologia at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. Isabel's talk entitled "Factores ambientales que determinan la abundancia relativa y riqueza de anfibios terrestres en el Parque Nacional del Manu, Cusco-Perú" explored the effects of abiotic and biotic variables associated with variation in frog species richness, abundance and biomass in the montane forests of the Amazonian slopes of the Andes.
Alessandro gave a plenary talk on the first day of the symposium, "Dos décadas de investigaciones herpetológicas en los Andes Amazónicos", summarizing some of the taxonomic, ecological and conservation work that the lab has conducted over the years, with special emphasis on the current project monitoring disease transmission in terrestrial-breeding frogs in the cloud forests of Manu National Park. Both talks were given remotely.
Congratulations to Rachel for being awarded a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution short term fellowship! Rachel is conducting behavioral and ecological studies at STRI in Panama for most of the year.
The lab contributed to the description and naming of a new species of high Andean terrestrial breeding frog, Phrynopus apumantarum. The study, led by collaborator Germán Chávez, appeared today in the journal Evolutionary Systematics. The new species (see holotype in the picture) is the southernmost species of the genus, which has 34 more species mostly distributed in central Peru. The epithet apumantarum derives from Quechua word apu (=mountain spirit), and from the name Mantaro which is the main river of the Valley where the new species was discovered.
Citation: Chávez, G., L. A. Garcia-Ayachi, A. Catenazzi. 2023. A new species of frog (Terrarana, Strabomantidae, Phrynopus) from the Peruvian Andean grasslands. Evolutionary Systematics 7: 105-116.
Two lab members gave talks today at the Tinker Field Research Symposium at the Latin American and Caribbean Center at FIU. The Tinker Foundation supports travel and field research for many FIU graduate students. Rachel connected from STRI in Panma and presented her research on Recognition of chytrid scent by the strawberry poison frog. Jon presented gave his talk on Transmission of chytridiomycosis in terrestrial breeding frogs in Andean montane forests.
Our lab contributed to the first report of Ranavirus presence in Colombia. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries for amphibians, boasting record numbers of frog and caecilian species. The study found Ranavirus in 14 of 274 individuals from 8 of 41 sampled localities, including highland and lowland sites. Infected frogs represented five native species of the genera Osornophryne, Pristimantis (such as P. bogotensis of the photo by Giovanni Alberto Chaves Portilla) and Leptodactylus, as well as the invasive American bullfrog Rana catesbeiana. Ranavirus can cause systemic hemorrhages, erythema on the lips, regurgitation, bleeding, muscle abnormalities and ulceration in infected amphibians. Ranavirus outbreaks have coincided with mass die off in amphibian populations, as documented in North America and Europe. However, little is known about the distribution and consequences of Ranavirus infection in tropical mountains and forests, where emergent diseases threaten amphibian biodiversity. The study is led by Dr. Vicky Flechas, and has been published in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms.
Citation: Flechas, S. V., J. Urbina, A. J. Crawford, K. Gutierrez, K. Corrales, L. A. Castellanos, M. A. González, A. M. Cuervo, and A. Catenazzi. First evidence of Ranavirus in native and invasive amphibians in Colombia. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 16: 153:51-58. doi: 10.3354/dao03717.
Congrats to Anne for winning the award for the best 15 minute talk at the 2023 FIU Biosymposium! She presented the results of her research on the impact of carbon nanoparticles on the growth, development, and telomere length of tadpoles of the invasive Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis). Nanoparticles such as carbon dots could disrupt the development of amphibian larvae, as seen in zebrafish embryos. Anne's experiment however did not detect variation in development and telomere length.
Isabel gave the second lab presentation in the 5 minute 'lightning' talks session, titled Environmental factors that determine the richness and abundance of amphibians in the elevational gradient of the Amazonian Andes. Her research, part of her undergraduate thesis, explored the influence of variables such as soil pH, soil nutrient concentration, and vegetation structure and canopy coverage on the distribution of montane and high-elevation terrestrial frogs in Manu National Park in southern Peru.
The FIU Biosymposium is an annual celebration of research conducted by Graduate Students in the Biological Sciences at FIU. The purpose of the meeting is to allow students to present their projects and results in a friendly, yet professional, atmosphere, and to provide opportunities for prospective graduate students to meet students and learn about FIU research.
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