The Smithsonian Institution is awarded a grant to construct a multiuser amphibian research laboratory adjacent to a pre-existing amphibian conservation center developed by the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation project at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Gamboa field station in Panama. The facility will provide research space, live animal laboratory space, and quarantine space to be used by in house staff, visiting scientists, students and volunteers. The addition of an amphibian research laboratory on the site will support research across numerous disciplines with a focus on utilizing the adjacent living collection of highly endangered amphibians. The new amphibian research laboratory will build critical capacity to improve the quality of existing NSF-funded collaborative research and open up new possibilities for such collaborations. The lab may facilitate multidisciplinary research in a wide range of areas, but disease mitigation research countering the devastating effects of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Panama will be prioritized.
Broader impacts of the project will be the growth of in-country capacity to research and counter amphibian declines throughout Latin America and provide a venue to foster hands-on experience for the scientific training of young scientists both in the US and Panama. In addition, the existing educational network associated with the project will help to leverage significant exposure for research conducted in the new lab both in the USA and Panama, and help to foster people-to-people awareness between the USA and Panama. For more information about the STRI Gamboa Field Station please visit the web site at http://www.stri.si.edu/english/research/facilities/terrestrial/gamboa/index.php.