Dr Rachael Antwis

Conservation Scholar Alumni

PhD Environmental Biology – University of Manchester, UK, 2014

Dr Rachael Antwis worked with Chester Zoo during her PhD through a co-funded BBSRC CASE studentship. Her research aimed to understand factors that improved health and fitness of housed amphibians, in order to improve the success of conservation breeding programmes.

During her PhD, Rachael looked at the effects of various environments on growth and reproductive output of red-eyed tree frogs and Morelet’s tree frogs. A main component of her work was to understand how differences in diet and environment, including dietary carotenoids, calcium, vitamin D (from UV) and planted tanks, influenced the ‘good bacteria’ that lived on the skin of frogs. These bacteria can protect frogs from infectious diseases, such as chytrid fungus that is responsible for worldwide declines and extinctions of amphibians. This is especially important for conservation breeding programmes may not have the correct bacteria to protect them on reintroduction.

Rachael found that carotenoids, found naturally in fresh fruit and vegetables, are important to maintain a rich community of bacteria on the skin of amphibians. Calcium and UV appeared to have less of an effect. In addition, marking frogs with Passive Integrated Transponder tags led to a significant but temporary disruption to the bacteria on the skin, whereas elastomer tagging had less of a disruptive influence.

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Key Publications

Antwis, R.E., Garcia, G., Fidgett, A.L., Preziosi, R.F. (2014). Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tagging frogs causes disruption to the cutaneous bacterial community and proliferation of opportunistic fungi. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 80, 4779-4784. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01175-14

Antwis, R.E., Haworth, R.L., Engelmoer, D.J.P., Ogilvy, V., Fidgett, A.L., Preziosi, R.F. (2014). Ex situ diet influences the bacterial community associated with the skin of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). PLoS ONE, 9. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0085563.

Michaels, C.J.*, Antwis, R.E.*, Preziosi, R.F. (*joint first authors) (2014). Impact of plant cover on fitness and behavioural traits of captive red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). PLoS ONE, 9. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095207

Antwis, R.E., Purcell, R., Walker, S.L., Fidgett, A.L., Preziosi, R.F.. (2014) Effects of visible implanted elastomer marking on physiological traits of frogs. Conservation Physiology, 2. https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cou042

Antwis, R.E., Preziosi, R.F., Fidgett, A.L. (2014). The effect of different UV and calcium provisioning on health and fitness traits of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 2, 69-76. https://doi.org/10.19227/jzar.v2i3.70

Michaels, C.J., Antwis, R.E., Preziosi, R.F. (2014). Manipulation of the calcium content of insectivore diets through supplementary dusting. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 2, 77-81. https://doi.org/10.19227/jzar.v2i3.59

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