Fieldwork is a major component of many research projects in the Bell Lab. We draw much of our inspiration from observing the animals we study in their natural habitats, and it's also nice to take a break from sitting in front of a computer!
Current Field Research
Diversity and conservation of central African amphibians and reptiles. In collaboration with many other herpetologists working in Central Africa, the lab is contributing to the current knowledge of amphibian and reptile diversity through field exploration and the preparation of tissue-vouchered scientific specimens. Through our fieldwork we are refining data on species distributions, describing new species to science, and documenting the prevalence of amphibian pathogens. Specimens of reptiles and amphibians from expeditions to Gabon (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017), Equatorial Guinea (2011, 2013, 2019), and São Tomé and Príncipe (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016) are housed at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the California Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the National Museum of Natural History. Audio recordings of frogs are archived at the Macaulay Library of Animal Sounds.
Type localities of North American vertebrates. In collaboration with the US Geological Survey, James Madison University, and Eastern Mennonite University, we conducted a pilot project to resurvey type localities of salamanders in Virginia and collect genomic-quality genetic vouchers. Specimens were deposited in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and distribution data will be added to the USGS Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) mapping resource. Our pilot field season was generously funded by an award from Smithsonian Institution's Global Genome Initiative. We plan to continue this work at the California Academy of Sciences and to focus on type localities of amphibians in California.
Banner photo: the 2011 Gabon field team (Rayna, Prosper, Ulrich and Toussaint) scoping out frog breeding sites in Ivindo (photo by Bryan Stuart).