The group of frogs, Genus Guibemantis, subgenus Pandanusicola, spend their lives in the Pandanus (screw-pine) trees, which are common in the Andasibe area of Madagascar. They live and reproduce in water that pools in the leaves of the trees. While surveying the trees, the researches observed frogs that did not look like any known species Genetic testing revealed 4 new species for the region, 3 of which were new to science.
Hugh Gabriel, Laila-Denise Rothe, Jörn Köhler, Sandratra Rakotomanga, Devin Edmonds, Pedro Galán, Frank Glaw, Richard M. Lehtinen, Andolalao Rakotoarison and Miguel Vences. 2024. Unexpected Diversity and Co-occurrence of phytotelmic Frogs (Guibemantis) around Andasibe, one of the most intensively surveyed Amphibian Hotspots of Madagascar, and Descriptions of Three New Species. Zootaxa. 5397(4); 451-485. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.5397.4.1
UBAP program leader and ornithologist Anastasia Rahlin presented a poster “Using Point of Care devices to assess Marsh and Sedge Wren food limitation”
Food limitation affects wildlife health and survival, may stem from differences in body condition or habitat quality between sites, and may be exacerbated by extreme weather events. Blood metabolites have previously been used as a food limitation index in birds. To assess changes in blood metabolites in marsh and sedge wrens, we used Point of Care devices to measure blood glucose, ketones, and triglyceride levels as short and long-term food limitation indices. We collected blood samples from wrens in May-August 2022 and 2023 in two Illinois DNR state parks and one dedicated conservation area in the Chicagoland Wilderness region over the duration of the breeding season. Our data indicate short-term food limitation may increase as the breeding season progresses for both Marsh and Sedge Wrens. Ongoing modeling will test whether body condition (age, fat and muscle scores), habitat quality (wetland extent and composition), or extreme weather (drought or flooding) best predicts glucose, ketone, and triglyceride levels over the course of the breeding season. Our findings will provide insights into physiological responses of sedge and marsh wrens to food limitations, and highlight the utility of using POC devices to rapidly measure blood metabolites in the field with minimal impacts to study species. An additional goal of this research is to use blood metabolite data to identify high-quality sites for migratory birds; our data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation areas at providing high-quality habitat. This work will inform wetland and wet meadow management strategies for migratory birds.
ARC program leader Ethan Kessler presented a poster “Reproductive output of forested ephemeral wetland-dependent amphibians across a modified landscape”
Forested ephemeral wetlands (FEW) support diverse communities of habitat specialist species across the eastern United States, including wetland-breeding amphibians (WBA). Due to their reliance upon FEW for breeding habitat, the location of FEW on the landscape influences population dynamics and distribution of WBA. Generally, FEW are difficult to detect due to their small size and position under the canopy, however, recent technological advances provide the ability to remotely detect FEW with great accuracy. Improved FEW detection methods enable a better understanding of how FEW characteristics and distribution influence WBA presence and abundance. We counted egg masses of two widespread WBA species, Spotted Salamanders and Wood Frogs, at 231 FEW on public lands in southern Illinois using a double observer methodology from 2020–2023. We then used local and landscape characteristics to predict egg mass abundance for each species. We found egg mass counts were highly correlated between observers for each species, but the presence and abundance of egg masses were not highly correlated between the two species. For Spotted Salamanders, we found a positive effect of wetland size on egg mass abundance but found no effect of canopy cover within a 200 m buffer. Conversely, for Wood Frogs we found no effect of wetland size, but egg mass abundance was positively associated with canopy cover within 200 m of FEW. Results from this study will provide a foundation for the estimation of WBA across broad geographic scales using discrete maps of FEW.
INHS PaCE Lab PhD candidate Devin Edmonds co-authored a recent paper on habitat features of Baron’s Mantella Frog. Tantely Rasoarimanana (Université d’Antananarivo) and Olivier Marquis (Paris Zoo) led the collaboration with the NGO Man and the Environment. The study aimed to identify what microhabitat features explain the presence of Baron’s mantella frog (Mantella baroni) and also estimate their population sizes in Vohimana Reserve, eastern Madagascar. We found that leaf litter depth and the number of small trees in a quadrat were important habitat features; deeper leaf litter and fewer small trees explained if M. baroni was present.
PACE Lab doctoral student Devin Edmonds investigated the origins of poison frogs in the pet trade, tracking down ethical and illegal sources. The results of his study were published in Herpetological Review.
This is the third intergovernmental agreement between the INHS and the Illinois Tollway and will allow the continuation of this mutually beneficial partnership that began in 2005.
The partnership has grown from monitoring Blanding’s Turtles in the Des Plaines River Valley to a multi-disciplinary program. While the key function is to provide the ecological knowledge necessary to comply with state and federal regulations, both organizations share a goal of studying the natural resources of the region to protect them into the future.
PACE Lab graduate student Devin Edmonds has been working to save one of the most threatened amphibian species in Madagascar. Listen to an interview he did with Amphibiacast about Mantella frogs, his time working in Madagascar, and his graduate research to conserve the Harlequin Mantella. A new conservation action plan will be released in the coming months.
Members of the PaCE Lab exhibited in Conservation World at the 2019 Illinois State Fair, providing information and education to over 500 visitors. In addition to displays about the research being done by the group, visitors were able to try their hand at using actual field equipment used by scientists in their daily work.
The Illinois Bat Conservation Program had a mist net deployed where visitors could untangle, identify, and measure bats, all while wearing leather gloves.
The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation group had snake tongs, hooks, calipers, and radio telemetry equipment available for visitors to try to wrangle snakes into a snake bag, measure turtles, or track a hidden turtle.
Other activities included Build-a-Bug, where people can assemble the arthropod of their dreams (or nightmares) from a variety of general and specialized appendages, Wheel of Migration, about the risks migratory birds face, and locating PIT-tagged animals.
A technician is sought to collect demographic data on amphibians collected from drift fence arrays surrounding vernal wetlands in central Illinois and reptiles from cover board arrays in old field and prairie habitats in central and northern Illinois. The technician will work independently and with others to collect data on amphibian and reptile demographics (identify, count, weigh, mark, and measure species). Records data manually and electronically into a database using a tablet. Prepares, under supervision, data summaries and quarterly reports. The technician will be responsible for decontamination of sampling equipment and boots, maintenance of equipment and fences, data entry, data management, tissue collection, amphibian and reptile marking and operate a variety of hand tools, electronics, and mechanical equipment such as 4WD vehicles and Utility Terrain Vehicles.
Work is performed in prairie and wooded environments where there is exposure to extremes of weather and temperature. The work requires moderate to strenuous physical exertion such as long periods of standing, walking over rough, uneven, rocky, steep, and muddy surfaces; bending, crouching, stretching, lifting, and carrying up to 40 lbs. Long hours in the field should be expected and some work on weekends may be required. Duration of the season will be from mid-January through August 2019.