Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla versicolor) Mating!



You can see their eggs in front of them. It is hard to make out individual masses in this photo, but each little sphere is an egg.

There are two purposes for this post:  1) to share some frog love (literally) with the world and 2) to brag that my job is the most awesome job ever.


So romantic.


Using Probiotics to Battle Chytrid Fungus

I’ve dedicated this week of my life to non-stop science.  This weekend, I’m at a workshop focused on integrating math into undergraduate biology courses.  Then, I’m off to the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease conference.

However, I didn’t want to leave you hanging without a post, so here’s a quick post about a neat topic.  This is my first post about Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).  Bd is a fungal pathogen that causes the disease chytridiomycosis (aka chytrid) in amphibians.  If you don’t know anything about chytrid, I highly recommend googling it – maybe start with the Wikipedia page?  I’ll blog about it in the future, but today, I want to focus on mitigating the disease.  How can we protect individual amphibians and populations of amphibians from the ill effects of Bd?

This month, there’s an Ecology Letters paper about using “probiotics” or “bioaugmentation” to mitigate Bd.  That is, by inoculating amphibians with symbiotic bacteria that are known to inhibit Bd growth, we may reduce Bd loads on infected individuals and/or prevent uninfected individuals from acquiring Bd.  The paper outlines ways to go about using probiotics to protect amphibians, and YOU should check it out HERE, right now!


Bletz et al. 2013.  Mitigating amphibian chytridiomycosis with bioaugmentation: characteristics of effective probiotics and strategies for their selection and use. Ecology Letters 16(6): 807-820.


I finally took a picture of a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) today!  I see them frequently when I first arrive at ponds, but they spook easily, so they’re usually long gone before I get my camera out.


“You’re interrupting my frog-eating.”

I also saw what might have been a green heron (Butorides virescens) yesterday.  I’m not a very good birder (yet), so I’ll have to see it again before I can be confident in my identification.  Here’s a photo of a green heron that someone else took:

Green Heron in flight (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Green Heron. Photo by Alex Lamoreaux.

And now, for the parasites!  One cool thing about having this blog is that I’m motivated to do things that I might not normally do, but that I probably should do.  For instance, I went to the Natural History Museum host-parasite database and looked up the parasites of the great blue heron.  There are a lot of potential parasites!

One of those parasites is the trematode Ribeiroia ondatrae.  You might have heard of this parasite because the metacercariae stage of the trematode encysts in larval amphibians, and is known to cause limb malformations in frogs.

A frog with limb malformations caused by the trematode parasite Ribeiroia ondatrae. Photo credit: Nature

Because Ribeiroia can cause these limb malformations, the parasite has been studied extensively to determine whether it is one partial cause of the worldwide decline in amphibian populations.  The jury is still out on that one!  I’ll probably talk more about Ribeiroia in the future, but for now, here’s a bit more information from the Parasite of the Day blog.

Any one else have heron pictures to share?  Or perhaps better yet, do you know of any other cool heron parasites?