The animals we study

Neotropical study organisms

Most of our tropical research focuses on frogs that lay arboreal eggs and have aquatic larvae, and includes work on their natural enemies at multiple life stages. Our frogs include species from three different lineages that have independently evolved to lay eggs out of water.

Red-eyed treefrogs, Agalychnis callidryas, and other phyllomedusines

A. callidryas life stage transitions (KW)

A. callidryas life stage transitions (KW)

Warkentin has studied red-eyed treefrogs since 1991, in Costa Rica and in Panama. This is the species we know best. We are building an integrative picture of its life, including behavior, development, ecology, evolution, and physiology. Much of our effort is focused on eggs, but we have worked with all life stages. We also do comparative work with other Agalychnis species, and phyllomedusine treefrogs more broadly.

Hourglass treefrogs, Dendropsophus ebraccatus

Reproductive mode plasticity in hourglass treefrogs (J.Touchon & KW)

Reproductive mode plasticity (Laying in water, J.Touchon; on land, KW)

Justin Touchon, the first Warkentin lab PhD student, added hourglass treefrogs to our study organisms in 2003. Touchon discovered reproductive mode plasticity in D. ebraccatus – this species lays either aquatic or terrestrial eggs, depending on environmental context – and has gone on to study the evolution of reproductive mode in Dendropsophus more broadly. The Warkentin lab continues to study the ecological developmental biology of early life stages in D. ebraccatus, currently focusing on mechanisms of hatching plasticity (Kristina Cohen’s PhD).

Glassfrogs, family Centrolenidae

H. fleishmanni egg brooding (J.Delia); E. prosoblepon eggs on their own (KW)

H. fleishmanni egg brooding (J. Delia); E. prosoblepon eggs on their own (KW)

Jesse Delia has been working with glassfrogs since 2003. He joined the Warkentin lab as a PhD student in 2011, bringing this clade into our study repertoire. In Gamboa, Panama, we are working with a group of six species – Hyalinobatrachium fleishmanni and H. colymbiphyllum, in which males care for eggs, and Cochranella granulosa, Teratohyla pulverata, T. spinosa and Espadarana prosoblepon, described as lacking parental care. Jesse and collaborators are also conducting comparative research on many other species in Central and South America.

Temperate study organisms

Mold-infected toad eggs in Lynn Woods, MA (I. Gomez-Mestre)

Mold-infected toad eggs in Lynn Woods, MA (I. Gomez-Mestre)

Our work in Massachusetts focuses on spring-breeding amphibians of vernal pools, including wood frogs and American toads, and on embryo responses to pathogenic water molds.