The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles has established a new endowment in honor of Dr. Margarita Metallinou, a herpetologist who had just finished the first year of her postdoc when her life was cut short in a wildlife accident. The endowment will support one or more postdocs (of any nationality) to attend the annual SSAR meeting. Please consider dropping by the fundraising site and making a donation!

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Dr. Margarita Metallinou

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2015 Lab Retreat

We had our annual lab retreat to UW Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Islands at the end of September. A few out of town visitors joined us for a “Biodiversity Genomics” workshop, including Dr. Matt Fujita (University of Texas, Arlington), Dr. Caleb Ofori-Boateng (Forestry Research Institute of Ghana), and Dan Portik (University of California, Berkeley). The four undergraduate summer interns  presented their research results on the phylogeography of various reptiles and amphibians in West and Central Africa.


People: Front row: Gianni Aranoff, Ricardo Sevilla, Abigail Tyrell, Sneha Krishna. Second row: Sima Bouzid, Peter Miller, Caleb Ofori-Boateng, Adam Leaché. Third row-ish: Leonard Jones, Jamie Oaks, Dan Portik, Matt McElroy, Jared Grummer. Photo by Matt Fujita

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Everything is Not Lost

Congratulations to Itzue on her new paper in the journal Mesoamerican Herpetology, “Everything is not lost: recent records, rediscoveries, and range extensions of Mexican hylid frogs“. The paper summarizes fieldwork results from the Mexican highlands. One significant finding is the rediscovery of five frog species that were considered possibly extinct in the wild. In addition, five new populations were discovered that expand the restricted distributions of three microendemic and one endemic species.frogs 



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Clay Toads

Matt McElroy published his research on toad coloration. He studied disruptive coloration in toads (Rhinella alata) on Barro Colorado Island in Panama using clay models (see figure below). Matt determined that the highly polymorphic colors and color patterns of Rhinella toads are functionally cryptic. What’s the consequence for the toads? Lower predation rates by birds.


McElroy, M. T. 2015. easing apart crypsis and aposematism – evidence that disruptive coloration reduces predation on a noxious toad.
Biological Journal of the Linnean SocietyDOI: 10.1111/bij.12669.

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Visiting Researcher Václav Gvoždík

Vasek in the field with a dwarf crocodile.

Vasek in the field with a dwarf crocodile.

Phrynobatrachus auritus photo by Dan Portik. The common names for the species are “eared river frog” and “golden puddle frog”

Our collaborator from the Czech Republic, Dr. Václav Gvoždík (a.k.a. Vasek) from the Institute of Vertebrate Biology at the Czech Academy of Sciences is currently visiting the lab to collect SNP data for a new African frog phylogeography project. The project is focused on phylogeography of the “golden puddle frog” from across Central Africa. We have nearly 150 samples to work with of this wide-ranging species, which spans many of the significant riverine barriers in the Congo Forest. Vasek has studied a number of African frogs from East, West, and Central Africa using genetic methods, and he has also done work on tree frogs from across Europe. His main research interests are evolution, speciation and phylogenetic diversification of vertebrates using molecular-genetic approaches, and analyses of phenotype and biogeographic applications. You can read more about Vasek and his research at his website, including his current project focused on Amphibian diversification across sky-island and lowland rain forests in Africa.

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