Amphibian Disease Ecology Lab
Dr. Patricia Burrowes
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
Education and Outreach
Here we showcase some of the opportunities we've had to educate and present topics and results from our lab research. You can also find information about the methods we use in the lab to study amphibians and track their disease ecology.
Colegio San Antonio
Our lab team was invited to Colegio San Antonio, located in Río Piedras, San Juan - Puerto Rico to talk about amphibians and our research work. Over 100 students attended the presentation offered by Junangel Aleman Rios. He went over general information about amphibians, our main research questions and how we go about trying to answer them. During the presentation, we offered some students a chance to measure and weigh live frogs and provided the opportunity to learn how to interpret some of our results presented in graphs. The activity was very well received, and we obtained a positive feedback from San Antonio students and their teachers. Below are some images from the event.
Junangel Aleman Rios starting off the presentation to the students of Colegio San Antonio.
Junangel Aleman Rios explaining what Snout to Vent Length means and how to properly measure a frog while the rest of the team supervises the students working with the live E. coquies.
Picture of lab team that participated in this activity after out presentation at the school. Paola Burgos, Roberto Oliveras, Junangel Aleman Rios and Emmanuel Santiago (from left to right).
Global Amphibian and Reptile Desease Conference (GARD)
The Global Amphibian and Reptile Disease Conference (GARD) was held in Knoxville, Tennessee from August 4th - 10th 2022. Experts gathered to discuss about the diseases that affect amphibians and reptiles around the world. Over 230 professionals from 25 different countries attended. There were over 150 presentations during the span of the entire conference. It was an amazing opportunity to meet other colleagues and discuss methods, results, solutions and potential collaborations. Patricia Burrowes and Junangel Aleman Rios both offered presentations during the conference. More information about the event can be found here.
Patricia Burrowes begginning her presentation at GARD.
Junangel Aleman Rios about to start his presentation about the mark and recapture method used in the lab (see section for more details) and how it is used to track desease progress in the population.
Inserting PIT´s in small frogs
In the video below Claudia Saldaña (narrated by Junangel Aleman Rios) shows how to insert Passive Internal Tranponders (PIT´s) in small, terrestrial, direct-developing frogs. We have been very successful marking, tracking and recapturing Eleutherodactylus coqui frogs (>28 mm) using this technique!
AMP extraction procedure
To understand how the frog's immune system works in response to the chytrid fungus infection and at what age it starts developing, we collect AMP (Anti-Microbial Peptides) which are defense molecules from the skin. On the image below (left), you can see how we inject a solution of norepinephrine to the frogs, which causes them to stress and release skin secretions. After injections, the frogs are kept in a bag with sterile water for 15 minutes to collect the peptides -image below (right).
Marking juvenile frogs with VIE´s
The image below (left) shows a juvenile Eleutherodactylus coqui frog (SVL = 22 mm) that has been marked with a single color Visual Internal Elastomer (VIE). We have used this method very successfully to mark juvenile cohorts of small frogs in this direct-developing species. By doing this we can track their growth and determine how many survive to adult stages. The peculiar thing about this method is that the VIE shines in UV light, so we can mark them and then in the future check for tags with a UV flashlight (see image below -right).
Below is student Lynn Moreira explaining and demonstrating how to inject a juvenile E. coqui with VIE's
Disease Ecology in the Curriculum
The curriculum of undergraduate courses like Zoology (Biol 3425) at UPR have been modified to include topics that will provide content knowledge, case studies and activities to understand the impact of emergent infection diseased in wild animals. By clicking this image you will have access to the course syllabus.