Amphibian Research Lab @ Bucknell University

Ecology, Ethology & Conservation

Current Research Focuses

Our research group is broadly interested in ecology, ethology and conservation of amphibians (and some reptiles). Our current projects focus on: 1) Interspecific interactions between wood frogs and spotted salamanders, 2) Effects of road salt pollution on an aquatic community, 3) Parental care behavior of Japanese giant salamanders, and 4) Population assessment of giant salamanders using environmental DNA.

Interested in joining the lab?

Please go through the lab web page carefully to see if your research and personal interests fit those of the lab. Bucknell is a primarily undergraduate institution. But we also offer a master's program. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.


I will be on sabbatical leave during the 2019-2020 academic year and will not be able to take new students. I will be in Japan teaching a course at Doshisha University in Kyoto and working on the giant salamander projects.

Summer Research in Japan

During the summer of 2018, I was able to take three of my research students to Japan to work on population assessments of the giant salamanders. We stayed at the Japan Hanzaki Research Institute for a month, collected water samples, and processed the samples for environmental DNA analysis. I hope to offer the Summer Research Program in Japan every two years.

We would like to acknowledge the following funding sources that made the research trip possible:

Bucknell Biology Department; Bucknell China Institute; Case Family Donation to Takahashi Lab; Fund for Undergraduate Research in Biological and Chemical Sciences (Russo); Japan Hanzaki Research Institute; Robert P. Vidinghoff Memorial Summer Internship; Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies (SRHCES); Warren G. Abrahamson II Fund for Evolutionary Biology & Ecology

A documentary about Japanese giant salamanders and my collaborator, Sumio Okada

Sumio Okada is a scientist studying the Japanese Giant Salamander. It is the world’s largest amphibian growing up to six feet and has been on earth for over 160 million years, but may be headed for extinction due to humanity’s impact on the environment.

We find Sumio conducting research in paradise, an area where giant salamanders can still be found successfully breeding. However, this safe haven remains unprotected from future development. Across Japan, much of the giant salamander’s river habitat has been destroyed by the government’s blind use of concrete for flood control and industrial development.

It's human apathy that led to this crisis, and Sumio feels like he has to be a voice for the salamanders to win the hearts and minds of the Japanese people so they might see the giant salamander through his eyes. If they can fall in love, then perhaps the giant salamander’s future isn’t so bleak after all.