Repeated evolution of terrestrial breeding in Atlantic Coastal Forest frogs

Our paper on the evolution of terrestrial breeding in frogs is out in Evolution! This was a fun one to write, and also the first chapter of Fabio de Sa’s PhD thesis.

Using comparative analyses and a multilocus phylogeny for the genera Cycloramphus and Zachaenus, our paper shows that terrestrial breeding has evolved three times in the clade, from a stream breeding (saxicolous) ancestor. Each time that happened, we see a correlated “shrinking” on the part of males, but not females, resulting in larger degree of sexual size dimorphism between the sexes.

Our conclusion is that by moving onto land, and breeding in concealed terrestrial chambers, or in leaf-litter, males are released from costly male-male competition that is typical for males defending territories and females in exposed stream breeding environments.

Zamudio Lab featured @CornellResearch site

We gathered all the Zamudio lab bodies that were on campus in late August for a photoshoot to accompany our lab profile… those of you who have done one of these before know how awkward it is to be photographed “acting normal” in front of the camera. We had fun – and here are some rockstar images of some of the members of the Zamudio Lab (Summer 2019). Photocredit: Dave Burbank

Riddell et al. (2019) paper published in Nature Communications

Eric Riddell visited our lab a few years ago to work up the gene expression data in salamanders from different elevations kept at different temperatures, to test for the underpinnings of plasticity and response to thermal change. His paper was just published in Nature Communications.

This paper is a great example of integrative organismal biology, pairing field translocations, with gene expression, and predictive thermal susceptibility. Congrats to Eric for leading all the co-authors!

Figure 1 from From: Thermal cues drive plasticity of desiccation resistance in montane salamanders with implications for climate change

Amphibian decline podcast with the Science Show, ABC News, Australia

KZ was interviewed for a science podcast by Robyn Williams, a very fun science reporter from the Science Show, ABC News Australia. The conversation was wide-reaching, ranging from habitats, to fungi, to politics of Brazil, and international collaborations. Here is the podcast with a shout out to our wonderful Brazilian collaborators!

The Global Impact of Chytridiomycosis

Figure 1. Scheele et al., 2019. Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversity. Science 363: 1459-1463.

We often get asked… how bad is the global Bd epidemic, really?

Our lab participated in a global, quantitative assessment of the amphibian chytridiomycosis panzootic, published today in Science. Chytridiomycosis is one of the most devastating examples of a wildlife epidemic, and this disease played a role in the decline of at least 501 amphibian species over the past half-century, including 90 presumed extinctions. The effects of chytridiomycosis have been greatest in range-restricted anurans, wet climates, and high elevations in the Americas and Australia. Declines peaked in the 1980s, and only 12% of declined species show signs of recovery. Plenty of work to be done still to identify mechanisms of species recovery and develop mitigation actions.

Ben Scheele deserves full credit for leading this huge group of amphibian biologists!

Katie Garrett and Jonathan Kolby made a beautiful (and sobering) video about our results, Cornell Chronicle published a piece on the paper, and Dan Greenberg and Wendy Palen also authored a ‘Perspective’ piece.