Wildlife Health

Although I have separated out wildlife health, it overlaps significantly with the conservation, ecotoxicology, and ecology pages of my website. Wildlife health is tied to an organism's ability to deal with stress. The expression of abnormalities and histopathologies are not simply dependent on the exposure to chemicals, pathogens or parasites. In fact, the intricate web of interactions among the subject, its community, the surrounding physical and chemical environment and the changes that environment is undergoing directly influence if a deformed frog is present, pathologies are expressed, or parasites become a problem. Below are three overlapping areas of research. You will need to scroll down if on a smartphone or tablet.

I was one of the earlier researchers investigating amphibian abnormalities. In fact, in the 1990s, I was a regional contact for the North American Reporting Center for Amphibian Malformations. Above are pictured two malformed frogs collected by me in Southern Illinois.

Media Attention

Andy Kravetz. SIUE pond yields deformed frogs, questions of what they portend. St. Louis Post Dispatch. August 1, 1997.

Deformed frogs found in Metroeast. Belleville News Democrat. August 1997.

Channel 2 (ABC affiliiate) 10:00 News. St. Louis MO.

Channel 5 (NBC affiliate) 10:00 News. St. Louis MO.

20/20. Deformed frogs in St. Louis.

Scientific Articles

McCallum, M.L. and S.E. Trauth. 2003. A 43-year museum study of Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) abnormalities in Arkansas: Upward trends and distributions. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39(3):522-528.

*This article represents one of the first attempts to use museum collections as records of wildlife health. The unique study directly led to numerous professional opportunities, including a prestigious postdoc offer from a high-profile scientist.

Wheeler, B.A., M.L. McCallum, and S.E. Trauth. 2002. Abnormalities in the Ozark Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 56:250-252.

*Although damage to the extremities in hellbenders was known, it was largely ignored. We were able to track changes in frequency among populations. Others followed this study in other regions.

McCallum, M.L., B.A. Wheeler, and S.E. Trauth. 2001. Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis (Illinois Chorus Frog) Dysfunctional vocal sac. Herpetological Review 32(4):248-249.

*The cause of this anomaly is unknown, but the article discusses possible causes. It was particularly important because this is a species of conservation concern.

McCallum, M.L., and S.E. Trauth. 2000. Curly-tail malformity in hatchlings of the alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temminickii (Testudines: Chelydridae), from Northeastern Arkansas. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 54:150-152.

*This was previously unreported. Alligator Snapping Turtles are susceptible to caudal deformities during incubation. This is a critical point for turtle farms and conservation biologists.

McCallum, M.L. 1999. Rana sphenocephala (southern leopard frog) malformities found in Illinois with behavioral notes. Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 92:257-264.

*Although the cause of the abnormalities observed remains undetermined, it was not long after that it was discovered that a chemical company had been illegally pumping chromium and other contaminants into Long Lake, a nearby pond with shared hydrology.