Belly Rubs and Frog Slime: Young Citizen Scientists help study Amphibian Disease in CT
Last week we started field work for the continuation of our amphibian research to evaluate the presence of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in our native frogs, toads and salamanders. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd as it is often called, may cause a deadly disease in amphibians which has been implicated in unprecedented amphibian die-offs and population crashes worldwide. Together with researchers from Yale University, Connecticut Audubon Society’s Conservation Biologist Twan Leenders coordinates efforts to collect skin swabs from Connecticut’s amphibians to be analyzed for the presence of DNA from the ‘killer fungus’. Sensitive populations of state-listed frogs and salamanders are analyzed to see if additonal conservation efforts are needed, but many of the samples are collected from a wide range of species and in as many different places as possibe. To get the largest sample sizes possible, we are employing the best frog catchers in the world: kids! Last week we started teaming up university reserachers with summer campers and even though got off to a rough start (only a single frog was caught after hours of searching for amphibians due to the extremely high water levels) we know from experience that this combination of skills is extremely effective and loads of fun! You can read more about our recent efforts on our blog and an overview of last year’s work on our website here.