Georgia - Eastern Hellbender
Robert Hill is the Amphibian Specialist for the Department of Research and Conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Robert has begun a study to survey our continentís largest amphibian, Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), for the presence of a fungal pathogen that has led to mass population declines and extinctions to many of the worldís amphibians. Zoo Miami was proud to help fund Robertís efforts through a grant from the Zoo Miamiís Conservation and Research Fund and aid efforts to help this declining species.
Robertís research involved surveying for the presence of Hellbenders in some of the freshwater streams and rivers of Georgia and taking swab samples from their skin to submit for the detection of the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). This fungus can lead to the pathologic condition, chytridiomycosis, in most of the worldís amphibians. Robertís work hopes to determine if the chytrid fungus is present in these populations and if this could be a contributing factor in the species decline. Zoo Miamiís Zoological Supervisor of Ectotherms, Dustin Smith, traveled to Georgia to assist Robert in his fieldwork phase of the project.