MRes Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation
Environmental Futures Research Institute and
School of Environment and Science
Griffith University, G05, Gold Coast Campus,
Parklands Drive, Southport, QLD 4222
I am a PhD student at Griffith University working under the supervision of Dr Laura Grogan, Professor Hamish McCallum and Dr Chantal Lanctôt. I will be investigating the effect of environmental contaminants and their breakdown products on both the chytrid fungus Bd and normal amphibian development. The aim of the study is to determine whether environmental contaminants are a co-factor in Bd disease emergence and progression.
My introduction to chytrid and the devastating impacts it has on amphibian populations was a key factor in my decision to study Zoology for my undergraduate degree. While completing my degree at the University of Liverpool I was lucky enough to assist in chytrid related lab work at the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) in London. The experience I had with research throughout my bachelor’s degree resulted in me pursuing an MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation at University College London. The choice to study for my PhD in this group was swayed strongly by the opportunity to complete an amphibian disease experiment at IoZ for one of my MRes theses. This project was a co-infection experiment in Majorcan midwife toads investigating the effects of a primary exposure to Bd and a secondary exposure to Ranavirus on disease progression.
While undertaking my MRes I also completed a second 16-week research project. Here I used modelling to create maps of risk that assessed whether land-use change could be responsible for the resurgence of the malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi in Southeast Asia. This gave me experience in a different avenue of disease research that I had not previously considered. Since completing my masters, I have furthered my amphibian husbandry knowledge at the European Xenopus Resource Centre. Here I worked with other animal technicians to maintain a population of ~20,000 Xenopus, both X. laevis and X. tropicalis.
I am interested in the extreme variation we see in the outcome of chytrid emergence between amphibian populations. I hope that by investigating differences in host environments, such as the presence of environmental contaminants, I can begin to unravel what underpins some of this variation. Importantly I hope that work completed throughout this PhD will impact policy on the use of certain chemicals in things such as agriculture or fire suppression in order to mitigate the impact of chytrid on local amphibian populations.
Research key words
Chytridiomycosis, wildlife conservation, disease ecology, herpetology, environmental contaminants.