Conservation Biology

 

A large part of my work as a Research Scientist at the Memphis Zoo is focused Applied Conservation Biology. This encompasses projects that are in situ (reintroductions, field surveys, endangered species assessments), ex situ research (reproductive physiology, assisted reproductive technology, cryopreservation), and a combination of both (ecological fitness of captive-released animals). The following are some examples of current/past projects.

Captivity and Fitness
One of the main focuses of my work is to examine the development, morphology, and behavior of captive-bred and cryo-derived individuals compared to their natural counterparts.

(Click for publications)
Ecological Adaptability
We use field studies on model species to understand the obsticles captive-reared individuals face when exposed to a complex natural enviroment.
Building a New Population
Part of our on-going efforts are to maintain an active captive-breeding colony that can serve as a source population for reintroductions. Reintroductions are aimed at building new wild populations of critically endangered species, such as the dusky gopher frog.
Cryopreservation
Cryopreservation is an exciting way to conserve species and genetic diversity. Through comparing species within and across families, looking at species' conservation status, and testing out new methods, we are working to increase the effectiveness of cryopreservation as a tool for wildlife conservation. (Click for pubs)
Reproductive Physiology
When encountering new taxa, we work to understand their reproductive biology and develop tailored assisted reproduction technologies (hormone injections, in vitro fertilization). These mehtods are compared across species to maximize it's use for the conservation of threatened and endangered amphibians. (Click for pubs)
Knowledge Transfer
Part of our work is focused on building capacity in local conservation organizations, such as Jambatu Center for Amphibian Conservation (Ecuador), and increasing the success of ex situ conservation.

(Click to learn more about Jambatu)
Saving the Gopher Frog
Through our collaborations with The Amphibian Foundation, we are working to build up the captive-breeding program for the Gopher Frog, which is Georgia’s rarest frog species.

(Click to learn more from The Amphibian Foundation)
Pollinator Bat Conservation
Through our collaborations with Rimba and Project Pteropus, we are working to promote the importance of flying foxes as durian pollinators in Malaysia.


(Click to learn more about Project Pteropus)
Advancing Research in Zoos
A recent focus of mine has been establishing cross-institutional collaborations to make better use of the wealth of biological information in the living collections at zoos. As zoos transition to conservation organizations, it is imperative for us to maximize the accessibility of zoo collections.
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Behavioral Ecology

 

Much of my work in tropical biology and behavioral ecology is focused on parental investment of treefrogs. This included my dissertation work, which was the first empirical study of parental care in a Southeast Asian amphibian (conducted at the Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, Thailand). Other work includes on-going collaborations with the Kam Lab at Tunghai University (Taiwan). 

Maternal Care
Systematic observation and quantification of the unusual egg attendance behavior of a pond-breeding frog with maternal egg attendance in natural settings, as well as experimental manipulations to confirm its adaptive significance.

(Click for publications)
Paternal Care
Examining plasticity in amphibian parental behavior in response to predator threats and the consequences for their dependent offspring using a bamboo-breeding treefrog in Taiwan with paternal egg attendance.

(Click for publications)
Anti-predator Behavior
Examining the extreme anti-predator behavior exhibited by adult frogs during egg attendance, often against predators, such as katydids, that are a source of danger to both adults and their embryos.


(Click for publications)
Environmentally-cued Hatching
Comparing embryonic development and hatching time in response of various hatching cues, such as predation, submergence, and desiccation. Investigating ways in which cues are transmitted, received, and affecting the hatching behavior of embryos.
(Click for publications)
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Natural History

 

I have always been fascinated by animal behavior. Much of our knowledge of behavior stems from incidental natural observations. The following are some observations of diet, breeding, and predation of vertebrate and invertebrate species that I have published, including a new species discovered during my work. 

Multi-male Amplexus
Multiple male breeding during delayed rainy season by Hansen's bush frog (Thailand).

* Featured cover, Herpetological Review *

(Click for publication)
Nursey Web Spiders
Rare predation events of frogs and frog eggs by nursey web spiders (Thailand).




(Click for publication)
Snakes as Egg Predators
Predation of multiple species of frog eggs by the Yellow-spotted Keelback Watersnake (Thailand).



(Click for publication)
Arboreal Nest Construction
Foam nest construction and leaf-wrapping by the old world flying frog - Rhacophorus kio (Thailand).



(Click for publication)
Male-male Combat
Male territorial combat and vocal interaction in the common shrub frog (Sri Lanka).

* Photo by Tharaka Priyadarshana *

(Click for publication)
New Species Discovered
Caiusa pooae - new frog egg predator discovered through field observations (Thailand).

* Photo and description by Rognes 2015 *

(Click for publication)
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Captivity and Fitness

One of the main focuses of my work is to examine the development, morphology, and behavior of captive-bred and cryo-derived individuals compared to their natural counterparts. (Click for publications)

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