IUP student Catherine Krygeris (Department of Biology) presented preliminary results from her Honors Thesis project at the first PASSHE Undergraduate Research Conference for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, held November 15–16, 2013, at Slippery Rock University.
Krygeris (a senior majoring in Biology Education and a member of the Robert E. Cook Honors College and Biology Honors Program) presented a poster for her research, “Systematics and Conservation of Montane Stream Frogs (Anura: Hylidae: Ptychohyla) in Northern Honduras,” a project she has been working on since her junior year with faculty mentor Josiah Townsend.
For this project, Krygeris examined preserved specimens of Ptychohyla spinipollex from three isolated mountaintop populations in the mountains along the northern coast of Honduras and recorded a series of morphological data. Her analyses demonstrate that one population, from the Texíguat Wildlife Refuge, is morphologically distinctive from other populations and actually represents a new, unnamed species.
Krygeris and Townsend are now evaluating the genetic distinctiveness of the Texíguat population and preparing a manuscript to submit for publication that will name this new species. Unfortunately, Texíguat Wildlife Refuge is under direct threat from deforestation, and the new species of frog will be considered endangered as soon as it is recognized as a new species.
In parallel to the taxonomic research, Krygeris is developing an environmental education outreach program to help promote conservation of the new tree frog in the communities that surround Texíguat.