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Exploring the ecology and evolution of chemicals used by amphibians in defense and communication...

Whereas frog chemistry has been well studied, the chemistry and chemical ecology of the other amphibians is far less investigated as of yet. Therefore, I am now studying the secretions of limbless amphibians, called caecilians. This amphibian order mostly lives underground, or is fossorial, but some species are aquatic. There are about 170 species of caecilians, and I am now investigating the peptide components of five species in the Shaw Lab at Queen’s University in Belfast. I am also working on secretions of frogs endemic to Madagascar, including the brightly colored Mantella and Scaphiophryne. Finally, I continue with many aspects of community and chemical ecology, with a focus on frogs with diets that are dominated by ants. In the future I intend to continue with my efforts in Madagascar and the Guiana Shield (especially tepuis in Guyana) to understand the amphibians’ chemistry and ecology so I can help make informed plans to conserve the animals and their habitats. I hope that my studies expose the intricacy and beauty of our natural world to not only fellow scientists, but so importantly to the public in general, in an additional effort to inspire people to care about Earth.

  • Brian L. Fisher, PhD, is an entomologist who specializes in ant taxonomy and distribution, has founded a Biodiversity Center in Madagascar. I work with he and members of his laboratories in Madagascar and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California, United States. We have so far coauthored two publications continue our scientific efforts.
  • D. Bruce Means, PhD, is a herpetologist who specializes in extreme exploration and has blazed many new trails in the Guiana Shield. We led an expedition together to Guyana in July 2007 that was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We have one publication in press from behavioral and anatomical observations of a pair of frogs seen on that expedition.
  • Mark Wilkinson and David Gower, PhDs, are herpetologists specializing in caecilian amphibians at the British Museum of Natural Hisotry in London, England, UK.
  • The organization MICET-ICTE (Madagascar Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Ecosystems with USA base at SUNY Stony Brook) has greatly facilitated my research in Madagascar and helped me to find Malagasy students and Professors that have been integral collaborators for successful field expeditions.
  • Others to be added here soon. Interested in collaborating?? Feel free to email me!