2013-Present: PhD Student – Institute of Zoology (ZSL), Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (University of Kent) and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
2012: Consultant, Mountain Chicken Research Project, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
2011-2012: Conservation Science Intern, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
2010-2011: MSc Conservation Science (Distinction), Imperial College London.
2007-2010: BSc Hons, Biology (First Class), University of Bath.
"The emergence, epidemiology and impact of chytridiomycosis in the mountain chicken frog.”
Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis(Bd), has caused the catastrophic decline or extinction of over 200 species of frogs, often in less than a year. 41% of Amphibians are considered threatened; the highest percentage of any class of vertebrate. There is currently no known method for eradicating Bd from local environments.
The mountain chicken is one of the world’s largest frogs and is endemic to Montserrat and Dominica in the East Caribbean. In 2002, amphibian chytridiomycosis was first observed in Dominica and caused catastrophic declines in the population. In 2009, the disease reached Montserrat and caused an estimated 95% decline in mountain chicken numbers within only 2 years.
In response, a conservation breeding population was set up and some of the captive-bred frogs have subsequently been reintroduced to Montserrat through several restocking exercises. In addition, alternative mitigation strategies have been investigated.
The mountain chicken frog represents a unique opportunity as a model organism forBd research, as it has a well studied life history, is large and is relatively easy to track for long periods of time. It is also a culturally important animal on the islands on which it is found resulting in a strong willingness to engage in its conservation at the local level.
My research focuses on the mountain chicken frog on both the islands of Montserrat and Dominica with four main areas of interest:
1. Patterns of emergence of chytridiomycosis and the resultant impact on the populations.
2. Differences in the epidemiology of chytridiomycosis on the islands of Montserrat and Dominica, where the populations of mountain chicken might have been differentially impacted.
3. Understanding the ecological risk factors involved in the transmission and maintenance of chytridiomycosis in the environment.
4. Methods of mitigation to protect against chytridiomycosis and enable the maintenance of the wild population
Professor Andrew Cunningham, Institute of Zoology, ZSL.
Professor Richard Griffiths, DICE, University of Kent.
Dr. Richard Young, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
My PhD is funded by the Balcombe Trust through Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.