Honors & Awards
Graduate Research Fellow, National Science Foundation
Education & Certifications
Bachelor's of Arts, Boston University, Biology with specialization in Ecology & Conservation Biology (2015)
- Land use impacts poison frog chemical defenses through changes in leaf litter ant communities NEOTROPICAL BIODIVERSITY 2020; 6 (1)
Mechanisms of Convergent Egg Provisioning in Poison Frogs.
Current biology : CB
Parental provisioning of offspring with physiological products (nursing) occurs in many animals, yet little is known about the neuroendocrine basis of nursing in non-mammalian species. Within amphibians, maternal provisioning has evolved multiple times, with mothers of some species feeding unfertilized eggs to their developing offspring until tadpoles complete metamorphosis [1-3]. We conducted field studies in Ecuador and Madagascar to ask whether convergence at the behavioral level provides similar benefits to offspring and relies on shared neural mechanisms in dendrobatid and mantellid poison frogs. At an ecological level, we found that nursing allows poison frogs to provide chemical defenses to their tadpoles in both species. At the neural level, nursing was associated with increased activity in the lateral septum and preoptic area, demonstrating recruitment of shared brain regions in the convergent evolution of nursing within frogs and across vertebrates . In contrast, only mantellids showed increased oxytocin neuron activity akin to that in nursing mammals , suggesting evolutionary versatility in molecular mechanisms. Our findings demonstrate that maternal provisioning provides similar potential benefits to offspring and relies on similar brain regions in poison frog species with convergently evolved toxicity and maternal care. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.032
View details for PubMedID 31761700
The neural basis of tadpole transport in poison frogs.
Proceedings. Biological sciences
2019; 286 (1907): 20191084
Parental care has evolved repeatedly and independently across animals. While the ecological and evolutionary significance of parental behaviour is well recognized, underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We took advantage of behavioural diversity across closely related species of South American poison frogs (Family Dendrobatidae) to identify neural correlates of parental behaviour shared across sexes and species. We characterized differences in neural induction, gene expression in active neurons and activity of specific neuronal types in three species with distinct care patterns: male uniparental, female uniparental and biparental. We identified the medial pallium and preoptic area as core brain regions associated with parental care, independent of sex and species. The identification of neurons active during parental care confirms a role for neuropeptides associated with care in other vertebrates as well as identifying novel candidates. Our work is the first to explore neural and molecular mechanisms of parental care in amphibians and highlights the potential for mechanistic studies in closely related but behaviourally variable species to help build a more complete understanding of how shared principles and species-specific diversity govern parental care and other social behaviour.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2019.1084
View details for PubMedID 31311480
- Seasonal changes in diet and chemical defense in the Climbing Mantella frog (Mantella laevigata) (vol 13, e0207940, 2018) PLOS ONE 2019; 14 (6)