Monday, July 13, 2015

Looking Under the Log - Dr. Vance Vredenburg on Amphibians

We're excited to host Dr. Vance Vredenburg of San Francisco State University for our next Discover Nature lecture on Amphibians!

Amphibians, Amphibian Decline, and Restoration
Friday, August 14, 2015 
7pm lecture, no reservations necessary
$10 suggested donation, students free
Click here for more info.

We hope to see you there! 

Dr. Vance Vredenburg
Looking Under the Log
Dr. Vredenburg Researches Frogs, Newts, and Salamanders with an Eye Towards Conservation

Responses by Dr. Vance Vredenburg

1) What got you interested in amphibians in the first place?  
I wanted to conduct research on a group of animals where I felt I could have conservation impact. They are so threatened that it seemed to make sense. I also wanted to work in a system where I could directly handle the animals (mammals and birds were out!) and I’ve always been fascinated by amphibians.

All three species of California's newts are found
at Pepperwood! Photo taken at Pepperwood by
Ken-ichi Ueda of
2) Your work seems to span the globe. How are challenges to amphibians in Northern California similar or different than the challenges face in other regions? 
In many ways they are similar. A pandemic disease is affecting amphibians in similar ways in Northern California, Chile, Spain, China, and even Palau and humans are the cause of the pandemic. 

3) Can you tell us a little about AmphibiaWeb? What prompted you to start this on-line web portal? 
AmphibiaWeb is an online amphibian conservation portal. I started it with David Wake (a professor at UC Berkeley) when I was a graduate student back in 1998. It was created and is maintained by volunteers interested in saving the world’s amphibians. It provides information (e.g. conservation status, photos, range maps, etc.) on every known species of amphibian and gets over 7.3 million successful queries per year.

Newt photographed by 2014 TeenNat intern Mario Balitbit.

4) What can average community members do to help promote the survival of amphibian species? 
Become educated about the species that live in our natural world, sometimes even in our front yards (e.g. California slender salamanders are the most common amphibian in California), help spread the word that releasing amphibians purchased in the pet trade should never be done, and become involved in a conservation organization. 

Dr. Vredenburg was raised in Mexico and the United States. His scientific training began as an undergraduate at the University of California Santa Barbara where he worked on ecological research projects in coastal California, Alaska, the Caribbean, and Antarctica. His current research focuses on the ecology, evolution and conservation of amphibians including the ecology of emerging infectious amphibian disease, the role of the skin microbiome in health and disease, and the role of climate change and behavior on disease dynamics. Dr. Vredenburg the co-founder of AmphibiaWeb an online conservation resource for the world’s amphibians. His research seeks to understand how some populations of frogs survive epidemics. Dr. Vredenburg is a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences and will be presenting on the conservation and threats to native amphibians. Learn more at the Vredenburg Lab website.

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