There are about 20 amphibian species living in this area of Pennsylvania. While students can potentially work with any of these 20 species, our lab (Takahashi lab) is mainly working with two species, Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) and Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvatica). Both species are widely distributed in Eastern United States and locally abundant.
The Eastern Newt is a pond breeding medium size salamander. Their breeding season varies depending on localities but can be as long as 6 months from fall to spring. Larvae stay in a freshwater aquatic habitat until they metamorphose into terrestrial juveniles (called efts), and leave aquatic habitats in summer. Efts stay on land between 2 and 7 years until they return to aquatic habitats to become sexually mature adults. We are currently using Eastern Newt as a model species to test whether and how maternal effects can affect growth and development of offspring in an adaptive way.
The Wood Frog is another pond breeding amphibian. If you find forested ponds in this area in spring, you will most likely find a large number of egg masses of these guys. They are one of the earliest frogs to breed and often breed in March. Their breeding season is short (a few weeks). Tadpoles metamorphose into terrestrial juvenile frogs in summer. Metamorphs stay in forested habitats throughout the life cycle except for breeding seasons. We are currently using Wood Frog as a model species to test whether and how chemical cues from predators and pesticide affect hatching timing of eggs.
Interested in our research program? Please visit the Takahasi lab website.