Amphibian Disease Ecology Lab
Dr. Patricia Burrowes
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
Terrible Consequences of Hurricane María
Hurricane María -December 14, 2017 :
Due to the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 the University of Puerto Rico suffered sever damage. Our laboratory lost its roof and was flooded from the top. After almost 2 months of intensive cleaning, organizing, and re-building we are now "functional" for many tasks!
We thank: (1) UPR's Cellular and Molecular Building (which has a very potent power plant) for saving our samples in their freezers, and providing an air-conditioning quiet work place for faculty and graduate students; (2) Dr. Ignacio De la Riva and colleagues at MNHN, CSIC, Madrid, for providing a stimulating environment for PI Burrowes to come and advance work while UPR was closed; (3) Dr. Karen Lips at Univ of Maryland -UMD- for offering her laboratory facilities to process our Bd samples; and (4) the AAA's, PRST. & Ciencia PR Continuity award for granting PI Burrowes the funds to travel to UMD to continue her laboratory work.
At El Yunque, Janelle's frog markings produced excellent recapture rates! (see Peña-Jiménez J. A. and Burrowes. P. A. 2021. An effective way to mark cohorts of juvenile terrestrial direct-developing frogs. Herpetology Notes 14(2021):1037–1042.)
At the lab, Peterʹs Thermal Physiology experiments showed significant differences between low-land and highland populations of E. coqui and betweem E. coqui and E. portoricensis that may explain the range contraction of the latter species.
Field and lab activities
We were seriously concerned with the lack of reproductive habitat after hurricane María, so we tested the potential of making available artificial habitat = "coqui houses" The results of this work have been published: Burrowes. P. A., A. D. Hernández-Figueroa, G.D. Acevedo, J. Alemán-Ríos, and A. V. Longo 2021. Can artificial retreat sites help frogs recover after severe habitat devastation? Insights on the use of “coqui houses” after hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Amphibians & Reptile Conservation 15(1) [General Section]: 57–70 (e274).
Field Sampling at El Yunque:
We regularly work our transects at our two elevation sites (667 m and 881 m), during the warm & wet and the cool & dry season of Puerto Rico. We regularly check our transects and re-measure or mark if necessary, and look for sick frogs in retreat sites during the day. At night, we monitor amphibian densities and take skin swabs to assess the status of Bd infection in these populations.