For my dissertation, I studied maternal care in a neotropical frog, Leptodactylus insularum, in Panama. These large frog mommas often care for schools of 1000s of tadpoles in temporary ponds. I found that they reached metamorphosis surprisingly quickly, growing from egg to juvenile froglet in about two weeks! In order to grow and develop so fast, these tadpoles were constantly active and foraging. This activity attracted a lot of attention from predators, such as fishing spiders and herons, and I found that the only schools that survived to metamorphosis had a mother guarding them. These courageous moms not only fought off predators (even my hand!), but also communicated with the schools, guiding them to safe foraging areas. Some males have large and muscular arms with thumb spines (intrasexually selected weapons), and the only males I observed breeding were huge and covered in battle scars.
I’m a Behavioral Ecologist that has studied parental care, territoriality, male-male combat, vocal communication, mating and courtship in frogs, birds, and fish throughout the Neotropics. In zoos, I designed enrichment for monkeys and frogs, and used positive reinforcement to train monkeys and sea lions, skills that I am now using to study wild hummingbirds!