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Finding Borneo in Vienna

DSC_9740This week I’ve had the great fortune of finding myself in beautiful Vienna, at the Tiergarten Schönbrunn Zoo, to work on a collaboration between Dr. Doris Preininger with the team at the Rainforest House and Manchester Museum. While Schönbrunn Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world (beginning as an imperial menagerie in 1752) it has modernized with the passing of time and now boasts an impressive collection and facilities, not least involving their herpetological collection.

While my background focus has been Bornean species in the wild, I have had limited DSC_9415experience working with Bornean amphibians in captivity. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Preininger, Bettina and Sam and with their awe-inspiring Bornean, and other South-East Asian species. For example, this week I’ve had my first encounter with Wallace’s Flying Frogs (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus), a cryptic species I was never lucky enough to find during my 6 month research project in the Bornean forest on the Kinabatangan river. These magnificent frogs use their enormous black webbing on their feet to glide from branch to branch, evading predators that lurk in the canopy.

DSC_9628I’m taking the week also to learn about Dr. Preiningers area of expertise; animal behaviour studies. My time is divided up between assisting the herpetological keepers with their daily routine, and spending time with the Bornean foot-flagging frogs (Staurois parvus and S. guttatus) to observe their unique behaviour. Both of these frog species have evolved to overcome the challenge of communicating over noisy streams by accompanying their calls with a “wave” of their hind legs. I was delighted to witness this behaviour first hand for the first time yesterday in S. parvus (pictured above).

I’m looking forward to learning more over the course of the week, and in coming face to face with more wonderful creatures!


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Foot-Flagging Frogs in Vienna

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