Lead Scientist – Assoc / Prof. Lee Berger
Lee Berger commenced her PhD in 1995 at JCU and CSIRO AAHL, with the aim of diagnosing the cause of the mysterious amphibian declines that were occurring in protected areas of Queensland. She discovered chytridiomycosis, now recognised as the worst disease to impact biodiversity as it has caused hundreds of amphibians to decline globally see CSIROpedia entry .
Berger’s work originally involved outbreak investigation including pathology, but has expanded to diverse areas to gain knowledge to understand and manage chytridiomycosis. She initially developed improved diagnostic methods including immunostaining, and devised animal infection methods that are used worldwide. She continued research on this disease part time with her salary funded by an ARC postdoctoral fellowship and an ARC Future Fellowship. This enabled further discoveries on pathogenesis, biosecurity, pathogen distribution, disease ecology, conservation management and immunity. She is now based at the University of Melbourne which has a strong and growing focus on wildlife disease research.
Herpetologist – Danielle Wallace
Danielle Wallace is a herpetologist and PhD candidate in the One Health Research Group at the University of Melbourne. She is deeply passionate about wildlife conservation and has nurtured an obsession about frogs from an early age. Her current research focuses on the impact of the devastating disease, amphibian chytrid fungus, on the reproduction and breeding display of Victorian frogs. Danielle has previously completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) and an Honours research year at Deakin University. Her Honours project looked at the habitat and distribution of the Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera) on Mt Baw Baw in Victoria’s Central Highlands. She also works as a wildlife ecologist in the East Gippsland region of far eastern Victoria, where she conducts surveys for threatened species in remote forest areas. One of Danielle’s proudest achievements while conducting research with frogs was being invited to take part in two collaborative monitoring projects with Zoos Victoria and the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI), targeting the endangered Southern Heath Frog (Litoria watsoni) and the Giant Burrowing Frog (Heleioporus australiacus flavopunctatus). The culmination of this work was her discovery of two new breeding populations of the endangered Giant Burrowing Frog, which instigated the creation of a captive breeding program at Zoos Victoria and attracted media coverage across the state. Danielle hopes to continue her contribution towards amphibian conservation and to discover ways to protect threatened frog populations against chytrid fungus.