Posted: 8 April 2016
Zoologists in the past have had difficulty classifying the genera Nothophryne, a species of frog that shares physical similarities with many other species, leading to its nickname the ‘mongrel frog’. Using genetic data, Dr Simon Loader and his international research team have for the first time shown the evolutionary relationship of this group relative to other amphibians.
His team collected DNA samples from these frogs in Mozambique and Malawi allowing for a comparison that shows how closely related they are to each other and all other frog species. Furthermore, by analysing the genetic samples of all known populations, the team were also able to identify up to seven distinct frog species. Each species was discovered on separate mountains but most of these remain yet to be fully analysed.
Dr Loader said, “The use of genetic techniques on Nothophryne has never been applied to this group before. This research provided us with a fascinating insight into the morphological, biogeographical and life history evolution of these frogs. We were also able to identify that the new species each lived on small, single isolated mountains”.
Dr Loader’s research also underlined a serious concern for the long-term preservation of the species. There is an increasing use of slash and burn techniques to create fields for agriculture that are destroying the frog’s unique habitats. Dr Loader and his team are working to raise awareness of this issue to further protect the biodiversity of the areas that these frogs live in.
To read more about Dr Loader’s discovery, his new paper is entitled ‘The phylogenetic position and diversity of the enigmatic mongrel frog Nothophryne Poynton’.
Biomechanics expert reveals secret behind Usain Bolt’s sprinting success
Biomechanics expert reveals the science behind Usain Bolt’s sprinting success as eleven-time World Champion and eight-time Olympic gold medallist in Times Sport.
Posted: 2 October 2017
Local communities in East Africa to benefit from coastal heritage sites
Professor Garry Marvin from the University of Roehampton’s Department of Life Sciences is using his expertise to support a £2 million research project to help East African communities better understand and benefit from marine cultural heritage. To support the project, the University is offering four East African students PhD scholarships.
Posted: 13 September 2017
Department of Life Sciences collaborates with NHS patients in garden project
The Department of Life Sciences is collaborating with NHS patients as part of a gardening programme taking place on campus this summer.
Posted: 30 August 2017