Nov 2

Photo of Chelsea Korfel, ARKive media donorMost of us go to work at our offices, sit at our desks and complete our 9am-5pm, but not ARKive Media Donor Chelsea Korfel. Exchange the office for Cuenca, Ecuador and a desk for a high altitude pond and you have Chelsea’s average day at the ‘office’ when she’s researching the San Lucas marsupial frog. We caught up with Chelsea at the Ecological Society of America conference in Austin, Texas, USA earlier this year and asked her to share a bit about her research, the story behind her images and why she contributes her imagery to ARKive.

ARKive: Can you tell us about the San Lucas marsupial frog?

Chelsea: The San Lucas marsupial frog is a really interesting species because it has a broad geographical and altitudinal range. During my study, I found individuals in ponds from 2,500 to 4,200 meters above sea level! Historically, this was a very common species and males could be heard calling at dusk and, at times, during the day.

Chelsea Korfel photo

Chelsea at one of her San Lucas marsupial frog research sites in Ecuador

Since this species is listed as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, I am studying it both in its natural habitat and in captivity. In nature, I am trying to understand how the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, commonly known as the amphibian chytrid, may be impacting wild populations, and in captivity I am working to learn better techniques for raising the tadpoles through metamorphosis. I am doing my research in collaboration with Zoologico Amaru and their amphibian conservation center.

ARKive: Tell us the story behind your two images of the San Lucas marsupial frog on ARKive.

Chelsea: The marsupial frogs have a unique breeding strategy where the eggs are placed in a pouch on the females back after fertilization. She carries the eggs until they are ready to hatch, then she deposits tadpoles into a pond. In the first picture, the female is full of eggs. I was actually looking for a different amphibian species when I found this frog, and I was so startled to see such a big frog that I jumped!

San Lucas marsupial frog photo

The second photo was taken approximately 15 km away. I was visiting the pond to collect tadpoles for a captive husbandry experiment and was very lucky to see this female in the pond. She must have just finished depositing her tadpoles into the pond and she was exhausted.

San Lucas marsupial frog photo

ARKive: What inspires you to contribute your images to ARKive?

Chelsea: As a child, I was inspired by the diversity of amphibians that I encountered through photos of various species. My interest has grown into a career as a biologist. I want to share the experience of my encounter with this unique species with others so that they can appreciate the organisms we share the earth with. I hope that these photos can convey a sense of our own responsibility toward conservation.

We don’t think we could have said it better ourselves! If you would like to join Chelsea and 6,500 other contributors to ARKive, check out our Most Wanted Species list to see which species we have yet to find imagery for and contact the ARKive team.

Interested in reading more stories about ARKive Media Donors? Check out our past ARKive Media Donor Spotlights here!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA