Gui Becker

(Principal Investigator)

Contact Information

Department of Biology

606 Mueller Laboratory

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

email: guibecker(at)psu.edu

Education

CORNELL UNIVERSITY (Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.)

Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2014 

 

STATE UNIVERSITY OF CAMPINAS (Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil)

M.S., Ecology, 2007

 

UNIVERSITY OF VALE DO RIO DOS SINOS (São Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)

B.S., Biological Sciences, 2005 (Double Major: Biology and Education)

 

Professional Appointments 

2022-present: Associate Professor,

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

2017-2021: Assistant Professor,

The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

2014-2017: Postdoctoral Researcher in Tropical Disease Ecology,

State University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

 

Selected Publications

Becker CG, et al. (2017). Land cover and forest connectivity alter the interactions among host, pathogen, and skin microbiome. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London – B, 284: 20171861.

Becker CG & Zamudio KR (2011). Tropical Amphibiam Populations Experience Higher Disease Risk in Natural Habitats. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118: 9893-9898.

Becker CG, et al. (2008). Habitat-split and the Global Decline of Amphibians. Science, 318: 1775-1777.

ScienceStrings: https://guibeckerweb.wixsite.com/sciencestrings

Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/becker_gui/

Sasha Greenspan

(Research Associate)

Contact Information

1301 Science & Engineering Complex

Department of Biological Sciences

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Education

JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY (Townsville, Queensland, Australia)

Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2017 

 

UNIVERSITY OF MAINE (Orono, ME, U.S.A.)

M.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2011

 

WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY (Middletown, CT, U.S.A)

B.A., Environmental Science and Anthropology, 2006

Research Interests

My research interests are tropical ecology and biodiversity conservation, with an emphasis on the contributions of emerging pathogens to population declines of wildlife. I specialize in the study of the fungal frog pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). My Master’s research was centered on the morphology of Bd as it invades frog tissue, as well as transmission of Bd from resistant to susceptible host species. My PhD research focused on the influence of host body temperature variation on Bd dynamics in the Wet Tropics region of Queensland, Australia. My career interests include field and laboratory research, wildlife conservation and management, One Health, technical and popular writing, and operations of scientific research facilities. 

Selected Publications

Greenspan SE, et al. (2017). White blood cell profiles help to explaindisease susceptibility of ectotherms following temperature shifts. Developmental and Comparative Immunology, 77: 280-286.

 

Greenspan SE, et al. (2017). Realistic heat pulses protect frogs from disease under simulated rainforest frog thermal regimes. Functional Ecology, 31: 2274-2286.

 

Greenspan SE, et al. (2017). Infection increases vulnerability to climate change via effects on host thermal tolerance. Scientific Reports, 7: 9349.

Wesley Neely

(PhD Candidate)

Contact Information

Mary Harmon Bryant Hall

Department of Biological Sciences

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Education
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY (College Station, TX, U.S.A.)
M.S., Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, 2018

NORTH GREENVILLE UNIVERSITY (Tigerville, SC, U.S.A)
B.S., Biology, 2015

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in reptile and amphibian parasitology, ecology, and conservation and how anthropogenic activities impact individual and ecosystem health, particularly in and around aquatic ecosystems. For my Master's I studied the environmental factors influencing parasite community assemblages in freshwater turtle hosts. For my PhD, I will be studying the interactions between chytrid fungus and frog microbiomes in an effort to understand factors influencing the spread of this pathogen.

Publications

Neely, W. J., S. E. Greenspan, L. M. Stahl, S. D. Heraghty, V. M. Marshall, C. L. Atkinson, and C. G. Becker. (2021). Habitat disturbance linked with host microbiome dispersion and Bd dynamics in temperate amphibians. Microbial Ecology 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-021-01897-3

Neely, W. J., S. E. Greenspan, L. P. Ribeiro, T. Carvalho, R. A. Martins, D. Rodriguez, J. R. Rohr, C. F. B. Haddad, L. F. Toledo, and C. G. Becker. (2020). Synergistic effects of warming and disease linked to high mortality in cool-adapted terrestrial frogs. Biological Conservation 245: 108521. doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108521 

Neely, W. J., K. L. Garner, and N. O. Dronen. (2020). Distribution and diversity of leeches on three common species of freshwater turtles from across Texas, U.S.A. Comparative Parasitology 87(1): 49-55. https://doi.org/10.1654/1525-2647-87.1.49

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Samantha Siomko

(Graduate Student / MSc)

Vanessa Marshall

(Graduate Student / PhD)

Contact Information

Science and Engineering Complex

Department of Biological Sciences

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

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Education
THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA (Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S.A.)
B.S., Microbiology, 2020

Research Interests

I'm interested in microbial and disease ecology, especially with regards to emerging infectious pathogens. My current project is focused on how host life history and abiotic factors jointly explain fungal infections in frogs from Equatorial Guinea.

Publications

Keller HW, Marshall VM (2019). A new iridescent corticolous myxomycete species (Licea: Liceaceae: Liceales) and crystals on American elm tree bark in Texas, U.S.A. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas. 

 

Lozier JD, Ols CN, Pitsenberger CA, Marshall VM, Watkins MHM. Fine-scale partitioning of bee diversity across an urban arboretum. Southeastern Naturalist. In press.

Shannon Buttimer

(Graduate Student / PhD )

Contact Information

Science and Engineering Complex

Department of Biological Sciences

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

shannon.buttimer[at]gmail.com

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Education

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – BERKELEY (Berkeley, CA, U.S.A.)

B.S., Molecular Environmental Biology, 2019

 

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on what factors shape the skin microbiome of amphibians and how ecologists can harness the anti-fungal properties of these bacteria to protect imperiled taxa from diseases like Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). For my undergraduate honors thesis, I studied how biotic and abiotic factors structure the metacommunities of Bd-inhibiting bacteria that live on the skin of multiple species of salamanders. I also have experience with endangered and invasive species management through my work with Wyoming Toads and Burmese Pythons. For my PhD, I hope to develop and test cutaneous “probiotics” for use on frog species in Brazil.

 

Publications

Buttimer, S., Hernández-Gómez, O., Rosenblum, E.B. (2021). Every bacterium is everywhere, but the salamander selects: metacommunity structure of the cutaneous microbiomes of San Francisco Bay Area salamanders. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 97: fiab162.

Buttimer, S., Stepanova, N., Womack, M. (2020). Evolution of the unique anuran hindlimb skeleton in relation to microhabitat, locomotor mode, and jump performance. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 60: 1330-1345.

 

Ananda B. Assis

(Postdoctoral Researcher )

Contact Information

Departamento de Biodiversidade

Universidade Estadual Paulista

13506-900, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil

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Education

Universidade de São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil)

Ph.D., General Physiology, 2015

 

Universidade de São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil)

M.S., General Physiology, 2011

 

Universidade Federal da Paraíba (João Pessoa, Brazil)

B.S., Biological Sciences, 2007

 

Research Interests

The effects of habitat change on vertebrates and their adaptations are the biological aspects of my major interests. The study of host-associated microbial communities has a high value because this system is an interface between the environment and the animal, which influences immunity. Therefore, my study is focused on the understanding of how environmental degradation affects host-microbial dynamics, and the consequences for host health. My research is focused on tropical forests with a history of anthropogenic disturbances, and their amphibian communities. My ongoing researchinvestigates the relationship between the environmental source of microorganisms (eDNA) and the amphibian response to the pathogenic fungus Batrachochyrtrium dendrobatidis.

 

Selected Publications

Assis, A.B., Bevier, C.R., Barreto, C.C., Navas, C.N. Environmental effect on the skin microbiota of Proceratophrys boiei(Amphibia, Anura) across forest fragments and its antimicrobial activity. Ecology and Evolution. v.10, p.901 - 913, 2020. 

 

Assis, A.B., Barreto, C.C., Navas, C.A. Skin microbiota in frogs from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest: Species, forest type, and potential against pathogens. PLoS One 12(7): e0179628, 2017.

 

Assis, A.B., Santos, C., Dutra, F.P., Oliveira, M.A., Costa, F.S., Navas, C.A., Magalhães, B.S., Barreto, C.C. Assessing antibacterial potential of components of Phyllomedusa distincta skin and its associated dermal microbiota. Journal of Chemical Ecology 42: 139-148, 2016.

Our lab has also been conducting research in subtropical and temperate rainforests. 

Aparados da Serra National Park,

Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil

Photo © Gui Becker

Contact Information

2401 Science & Engineering Complex

Department of Biological Sciences

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Education
GETTYSBURG COLLEGE (Gettysburg, PA, U.S.A)
B.S., Biology, 2017

 

Research Interests

I am interested in wildlife health and conservation, and I have previously studied the population dynamics of vertebrates affected by diseases or human conflict such as white nose in bats or human/predator conflict in wolves. My undergraduate research focused on the foraging techniques of predatory bats and insects on tropical frogs impacted by chytrid fungus. For my Master's, I will be studying the impact of fungal infections on frog microbiome communities. I also spend my time volunteering with wildlife rescue centers and participating in community conservation education.

Daniel Medina 

(Postdoctoral Researcher)

Contact Information

Department of Biology

518 Mueller Laboratory

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

medina.jpg

Education

VIRGINIA TECH (Blasckburg, Virginia, USA) 

Ph.D., Biological Sciences, 2018

 

UNIVERSIDAD COMPLUTENSE DE MADRID (Madrid, Spain)

M.S., Evolutionary Biology, 2011

 

UNIVERSIDAD DE PANAMA (Panamá city, Panamá)

B.A., Biology with emphasis in Zoology, 2009

 

Research Interest

My research interest focuses on the study of community and disease ecology, with a strong emphasis on amphibian conservation. Throughout my academic formation, using a combination of field studies and field and laboratory experiments, my research have aimed to understand the mechanisms involved in the co-existence of amphibian populations with a pathogenic fungus (Batrachochyrtrium dendrobatidis). These studies have focused on aspects of both population-level processes and host-associated microbial communities. My current research aims to understand, from an ecological and evolutionary perspective, the impact of co-infections by different lineages of the amphibian pathogenic fungus on the bacterial communities associated with the amphibian skin, and the implications on the amphibian host.

 

Selected Pulbications

Medina, D., M.C. Hughey, J.B. Walke, M.H. Becker, K. Pontarelli, S. Sun, B. Badgley and L.K. Belden. (2019). Amphibian skin fungal communities vary across host species and do not correlate with infection by a pathogenic fungus. Environmental Microbiology. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14682 

 

Medina, D., J.B. Walke, Z. Gajewski, M.H. Becker, M. C. Swartwout and L.K. Belden. (2017). Culture Media and Individual-hosts Affect the Recovery of Culturable Bacterial Diversity from Amphibian Skin. Frontiers in Microbiology. 8:1574. 

 

Medina, D., T.W.J. Garner, L.M. Carrascal and J. Bosch. (2015). Delayed metamorphosis of amphibian larvae facilitates Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transmission and persistence. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. 117:85-92. 

​​Renato Martins

(Fieldwork Support / Former MSc Student)

Contact Information

Departamento de Biodiversidade

Universidade Estadual Paulista

13506-900, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil

Education

SANTO AMARO UNIVERSITY (São Paulo, SP, Brazil) 

B.S., Biology, 2009

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. My ongoing research focuses on how discontinuity between terrestrial and aquatic habitats at the landscape scale shapes the interaction between the amphibian skin microbiome and the chytrid fungus in Brazil. 

Outreach: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjpF1hFOIpJgjWZeHBpo9qA/videos