Research using DNA helps us to understand frog populations better so in many cases we can help conserve them more effectively. Together with my colleague Dr Cathy Walton, I have been developing DNA techniques for evaluating the genetic status of several species so that different populations or separate ‘species’ can be identified for individual conservation.
The year before last we went to the north of Thailand to assess various amphibian populations and to trial collecting DNA samples by simply swabbing the frogs’ mouths. The fact that we won’t have to take a single blood sample from a live frog to do our research is key, as it’s very important to us that all our work is completely non-invasive. The procedure worked a treat and afterwords all the samples were highly usable in the lab. It was my first time in Thailand and it was a really wonderful trip. Above is a picture of Cathy and I collecting a sample from a large Racophorous tree frog, R. nigropalmatus (pictured).
We were staying with extremley kind people belonging to a hill tribe in a remote area in the far North. It was very cool, and so were the frogs that we were looking at – large flying frogs that had the most amazing colours and webbing on their hands and feet! Fantastic, they reminded me of a species I have worked quite extensively with from Costa Rica, Agalychnis spurrelli.
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