In a unique collaborative project, researchers in The Photon Science Institute (PSI) at The University of Manchester have joined forces with The Manchester Museum, which boasts an amazing collection of colourful tree frogs.
Physicist Dr Mark Dickinson, working with Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology at the museum, and Dr Richard Preziosi from The Faculty of Life Sciences, has started using a technique called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to investigate the properties of the tree frogs’ skin.
This non-invasive technique, which does not cause harm or distress to the frogs, allows images to be obtained from within tissue – and the Manchester team believe this innovative application of OCT could hold the key to understanding the alarming global decline in amphibians.
When in their natural habitat, the Costa Rican tree frogs being studied in Manchester prefer to live on leaves and branches high above the ground.
They enjoy basking in the hot sun – which is unusual because frogs normally avoid prolonged exposure to high levels of light due to the risk of overheating and dehydration.
The Manchester team’s hypothesis is that global warming is leading to more cloud cover in the frogs’ natural habitat.
They believe this is denying them the opportunity to ‘sunbathe’ and kill off fatal Chytrid fungal infections, leading to many species dying out.
In their work so far, the team have observed that the skin of basking tree frogs sometimes undergoes a visible change and becomes almost metallic in texture. They think that when this happens, the level of absorption and reflection and the skin temperature also changes.
The Manchester team believe tree frogs are able to bask happily under a fierce sun because they have the ability to regulate their body temperature and prevent overheating through the unique structure and properties of their skin.
Gray, Dickinson and Preziosi are now seeking further funding to do more comprehensive research using the OCT technique – which is more commonly used to examine the human retina – and put their hypothesis to the test.
As part of their studies, they want to use OCT to compare structural changes in the skin of tree frogs with the structural changes in the skin of frogs that do not have the same high levels of infrared reflectance.
This reflectance is associated with a pigment called pterorhodin, and allows the tree frogs to camouflage themselves from predators by adjusting the infrared reflection of their skin to match the infrared reflection of the leaves they laze upon.
They team are hoping to work with and support the important work being carried by the eminent climatologist, Alan Pounds, who has theorised that global warming is a major factor in amphibian declines.
The team plan to travel out to Costa Rica next year and to apply spectral reflectance techniques to tree frogs living in their natural habitat.
Dr Mark Dickinson said: “This is a great example of an exciting interdisciplinary research project that draws on expertise right across the university. It is proof that interdisciplinary research is not just a fashionable expression we band around, but something we actually do.”
Andrew Gray said: “With a third of the world’s amphibians currently under threat it’s vitally important we do our utmost to investigate the reasons why they are dying out at such an alarming rate.
“The imaging technique we use is completely non-invasive and does not harm the frogs in any way. As an animal conservationist, I simply would not allow any research that distressed these amazing creatures.”
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy