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Students help with research on fungus threatening amphibians

Student in search of amphibians at Olson Nature Preserve.A group of 25 Boone Central and Newman Grove high school students participated in an important research project with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo last week.

The students and their teachers, Mitch Osborn of Boone Central and Mark Seier of Newman Grove, collected samples from frogs and toads they caught at Olson Nature Preserve to check for a new species of chytrid fungus, Batrachochytriumdendrobatidis (known as Bd). This fungus, discovered in 1999 in South America, has been linked to a sharp decline in amphibian populations worldwide.

The samples, once analyzed in a lab, should indicate whether the fungus has reached the Midwest and central Nebraska.

The students received two days of training at the zoo before beginning their research work last week. They are working with zoo staff Julie Anderson, curriculum and instruction supervisor; Emily Brown, program manager, and Jessi Krebs, curator of reptiles and amphibians at the zoo.

They used cotton swabs to collect moisture from the skin of the amphibians, then released them along the Beaver River. The students caught and collected samples from 11 leopard frogs and woodhouse toads last Thursday.

Their research will continue on four evening dates in July, when they plan to test amphibians at Stevenson’s Lake and another Sandhills lake near Clearwater.

See the Albion New Print Edition for details.