Biodiversity of frogs in Southeast Asia
As part of an international collaboration we study diversity, evolution and phylogenetic relationships of the frogs of Borneo, one of the most famous biodiversity hotspots on earth. The basic idea of our project is to build an inventory of the amphibian species richness including their larval stages.
During our field work we collect frogs, tadpoles and tissue samples to increase our reference collections and to collect the material for subsequent studies of morphology and phylogeny. Moreover, we document habitats, geographic locality data and species composition of the amphibian communities.
Identification of tadpoles
In the biphasic life cycle of anurans the larvae (tadpoles) play a crucial role for the understanding of ecology, evolution and diversity of frog communities in the different types of tropical habitats. Tadpoles of numerous species are still unknown or misidentified in literature, new species of frogs continue to be discovered. We use fast evolving genetic markers for the unequivocal matching of tadpoles and frogs (genetic barcoding, 16S and 12S mt rDNA). Laboratory work is conducted in the gene lab at the Natural History Museum Bern.
Description of tadpoles
After the reliable identification we want to provide detailed and standardised descriptions of tadpoles of all Bornean frog species. The formal desciptions are published including color pictures, ink or vector drawings and REM images. More information and an impression of the diversity of Bornean frogs and their often bizarre larvae you can find on our homepage: www.frogsofborneo.org.
Morphological descriptions and comparisons based on modern techniques like computer-aided 3d reconstructions provide the basis for the understanding of evolutionary adaptations of tadpoles. In particular the convergent evolution of stream dwelling rheophilic tadpoles in different families (Bufonidae, Ranidae, Rhacophorida) is interesting for us.
The phylogeny of several groups of frogs of Borneo remains to be reconstructed and, therefore, the taxonomy is often in a doubtful state. Phylogenetic analyses using morphological and molecular data (sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear genes) as well as resulting taxonomic revisions are further projects.
Phylogeography and taxonomy
Furthermore we are interested in the reconstruction of the histrical processes that lead to the current distribution of frogs on Sundaland. We study therefore the of biogeography of the populations of different species of frogs on Borneo and the other islands of Sundaland using morphology of adults and larvae, molecular genetics and bioacustics. These integrative analyses result in improvments in understanding the diversity of amphibians. Finally, the combined usage of different sources of information in particular mitochondrial and nuclear markers allows the delimitation of species and the recognition of cryptic species.