An international research consortium led by MCB scientists in the Harland and Rokhsar Labs, along with researchers at the University of Tokyo, "reports a striking pattern of genome duplication in the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. The team showed that the frog’s genome arose through interspecific hybridizations of two now-extinct species between 15 and 20 million years ago."
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology Stephen Brohawn is a recipient of a 2016 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's New Innovator Award, designed to support exceptionally creative new investigators who propose innovative projects that have the potential for unusually high impact.
Pygmy Rain Frog (Pristimantis ridens)
Changes in climate and land use are expected to reduce the livable area for tropical frogs because these species will increasingly encounter temperatures hot enough to harm their behavior, reproduction and physiology. Climate change, however, may be the most destructive force, according to a recent study involving a researcher from UC Berkeley.
The researchers found that declines in frogs’ thermally suitable habitat area from climate change alone could be up to 4.5 times greater than declines attributable to land-cover change only, such as converting a forest to agriculture. Unlike humans, frogs rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature, so habitats in which frogs are unable to keep their body temperature below their maximum temperature limit are unlikely to support frog populations.
For the study, ESPM Ph.D. student David Kurz traveled to Costa Rica and conducted frog surveys in three land-cover types: forest fragments, heart of palm plantations and pasture (a few of the frogs that live in the study area are shown in the slideshow above). After 400 surveys, Kurz and lead author Justin Nowakowski, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis, identified frog species restricted to forest as well as species that were able to survive in the agricultural areas.
From this data set and data on frog thermal tolerances, the research team, including scientists from John Carroll University, Zoo Miami and Florida International University, modeled the shifting thermal landscapes of frogs to determine how much suitable habitat area would remain 80 years into the future for frogs with different thermal tolerances under a variety of land-use and climate scenarios.
“Our field data and subsequent modeling show that frogs that are better able to withstand rising temperatures have a better chance of survival in a rapidly changing world,” Kurz said.
The researchers found that frog species living exclusively in forests were most sensitive to the high temperatures that come from the combination of climate change and forest conversion.
The study was published September 26 in the journal Conservation Biology.Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:00byline: Brett IsrealLegacy: section header item: Date: Monday, October 17, 2016 - 10:00headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left
A new study of snow leopards’ habitat has found that just one-third of their current range will be a refuge from climate change by 2070, as habitat loss and fragmentation in the Himalaya and Hengduan mountains threaten not just snow leopards, but other species in the region.
A camera trap caught an image of a snow leopard in China. (Photo by Shanshui/Panthera/Snow Leopard Trust)
Snow leopards live in remote, high-elevation area on and surrounding the Tibetan Plateau, known as “the roof of the world.” The region is warming more than twice as fast as the Northern Hemisphere on average, threatening endangered species that call it home.
Among these species, snow leopards are critically important to the Tibetan Plateau ecosystem because they are apex predators, which keep the ecosystem in balance. To understand how snow leopards — and the entire ecosystem — will fare as the climate continues to change, researchers from UC Berkeley and Panthera, a wild cat conservation group, used past changes in the region to project future climate scenarios.
“Substantial conservation challenges will emerge as vast areas of snow leopard habitat are lost and become increasingly fragmented as a result of climate change. Getting ahead of and addressing these challenges now is imperative for snow leopards, their landscapes and all the unique wildlife those landscapes support,” said Juan Li, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Steven Beissinger, a professor of conservation biology at UC Berkeley.
The research was published in a recent edition of the journal Biological Conservation. This work was supported by Panthera, the Snow Leopard Trust, the Shanshui Conservation Center and a postdoctoral fellowship from Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences.Friday, October 14, 2016 - 09:45byline: Brett IsrealLegacy: section header item: Date: Monday, October 17, 2016 - 09:45headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left
Associate Professors of Cell and Developmental Biology, Diana Bautista and Lin He were named 2016 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholars through a collaboration between HHMI, the Simons Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Scholars are recognized for their potential to make unique contributions to their fields.
As part of the Bay Area Science Festival, the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI) and Science@Cal are holding a celebration of science and art called "Vision + Light: Extending the Senses."
October 27 & 28
5:30 to 8:30pm
Energy Biosciences Building (2151 Berkeley Way)
FREE with light refreshments
Recovery of the endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog in Yosemite National Park has now been documented in an expansive study led by UCSB researcher Roland Knapp.
The remarkable recovery of the endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae) has now been documented in an expansive, data-rich study of the species in Yosemite National Park.
New research from UC Berkeley biologist Erica Rosenblum and colleagues shows that after decades of decline — and despite continued exposure to stresses including non-native fish, disease and pesticides — the frog’s abundance across Yosemite has increased sevenfold, and at an annual rate of 11 percent, over the 20-year study period. Those increases, occurring over a large landscape and across hundreds of populations, provide a rare example of amphibian recovery at an ecologically relevant scale.
“This regional species recovery is particularly important as we work to understand whether and when species can rebound if threats to their survival are reduced in this time of rapid environmental change,” Rosenblum said. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.
The findings appear today in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was led by scientists from UC Santa Barbara and conducted at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory in Mammoth Lakes.Monday, October 3, 2016 - 10:15byline: Brett Israel, UC Berkeley Media relationsLegacy: section header item: Date: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 10:15headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left