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Advancing ARMI: In Search for Chytrid Fungus

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[Intro Music begins: Basson, Hall of the Mountain Kings, Classical One and Only]

OPENING CREDITS: “What I’m studying is an amphibian disease called ‘amphibian chytrid fungus.’” “Where do you go to school?” “JGEMS, the Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School.” “Their populations are declining and they’re at risk.” “And where do you go to school, Brody?” “The Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School.” “So what’s your favorite species so far?” “Northwestern Salamanders” “Where do you go to school?” “JGEMS, Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School.” “And then we are going to check traps that I set out that will hopefully have some amphibians in it” “Where do you go to school?” “JGEMS, the Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School.”

[Tara Chestnut] We are at Pintail Marsh at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. And, we were introduced to the student researchers from Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School.

[Keara Gann] Today, we were working with Tara Chestnut and we found some long-toed salamanders, rough-skinned newts, and a tree frog.

[Nick] We’re surveying and studying for amphibians because every year the 8th graders go on research trips.

[Brody] So, I thought it would be fun to do a research project on them since I have seen a lot of amphibians. And I just thought I would like to learn more about them.

[Brandon] It was amphibians out of several other groups of animals and I just thought amphibians would be more interesting since they could be on the land and water, unlike many other species.

[Background Music: Bassoon, Concerto in A Minor, Classical One and Only]

[Tara Chestnut] What we could do is bring all the traps back here so I can…so we can just record what’s in them and let the animals go, if there are any.

[Keara Gann] This group is studying the difference in abundance and diversity of pond-breeding amphibians. And, so, they’re looking specifically at ephemeral ponds and permanent, year-round ponds.

[Tara Chestnut] Any amphibians?

[JGEMS Students] Look, a little frog! You have a frog and a newt. Awesome! Two in one.

[Tara Chestnut] Today, one of the goals was to sample breeding amphibians for the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. And we set out aquatic funnel traps, and also used dip nets to try and capture amphibians. And, we are sampling them for the chytrid fungus using non-evasive swab techniques. So, we’ll collect a skin sample, not unlike a sample you might have collected from your cheek if you have strep throat. And, then we take those swabs back to the lab and do a DNA extraction and we can actually determine whether or not the amphibian chytrid fungus is on or in the amphibian and also how much of it is there.

[Background Music: Pledgling :30, Fresh Music Library, Acoustic Guitar Moods Vol. 2]

[Tara Chestnut] Everyone measure the animals twice. Have you ever heard in woodworking, “measure twice, cut once.” Yeah. Same rule. You just double check your work. Does anyone remember the name of the reflex they have to show other animals that you shouldn’t eat newts? It’s called the unken reflex.

[Tara Chestnut] One of the goals of this research is to better understand the ecology of the amphibian chytrid fungus in amphibian habitats. So, that we can better inform amphibian conservation. We’re looking at aspects of the water quality to try and understand if the temperature, pH, nutrients, carbon, or the turbidity in the water influence the density or presence of amphibian chytrid fungus in amphibian habitat.

[Keara Gann] Typical JGEMS field trip. Beautiful weather…no, it’s obviously raining, but it’s been great. I think the kids really like coming out and maybe not getting soaking wet. But the experience is good. Gives them character.

[Background Music: Clue :30, Fresh Music Library, Acoustic Guitar Moods Vol. 2]

[Tara Chestnut] The amphibian breeding season is…it indicates the arrival of spring. And that’s a pretty exciting thing. With the amphibians croaking and with the long-toed salamanders…and things like that, it means that spring’s here. And that’s pretty exciting!

[Brody] I think it’s fun to try to find them cause they’re not easy to find. So you kind of have to hunt for them.

[Tristan] Well, I like it because just the joy of amphibians really. They’re really neat to look at and to hold and to study.

[Brandon] Yeah, before I came into this group and started doing the research I basically knew nothing about amphibians. Now I know what they eat, where they live, the scientific names, a lot of stuff.

[Background Music: It’s Not Over Yet :30, Fresh Music Library, Acoustic Guitar Moods Vol. 2]

[Tara Chestnut] Yeah, I think this work…it’s exciting to me on a number of fronts. It’s exciting to me because we are doing truly novel research that will help with amphibian conservation not just at this site, on this national wildlife refuge, or in this region, but may potentially help amphibians worldwide.


Title: Advancing ARMI: In Search for Chytrid Fungus


In this episode, we follow a group of students from the Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School on a class trip to Pintail Marsh at the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. There they join USGS ecologist Tara Chestnut to investigate and sample for the amphibian chytrid fungus. Join us, as we explore how research and wonder can bring greater light to this potentially fatal fungus, only in this episode of the USGS Oregon Science Podcast.

Location: Salem, OR, Pintail Marsh, Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, USA

Date Taken: 3/15/2012

Length: 6:54

Video Producer: Steven Sobieszczyk , U.S. Geological Survey

Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

Additional Video Credits:

Video Credits: Tara Chestnut, Keara Gann, JGEMS Students

Producer: Steven Sobieszczyk


For more information go to: ARMI News & Stories

Also see: The Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School

USGS CoreCast

USGS Oregon Science Podcast

Water Resources of Oregon

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Tags: Amphibian BatrachochytriumDendrobatidis Chytrid Frog Fungus Salamander


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