Excerpt: For the second year in a row, Oklahoma University (OU) researchers will employ residents from around Oklahoma to collect data for the state’s first major study on amphibian pathogens. The lab, which is run by Cameron Siler, assistant curator of herpetology for the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, is part of the museum. The Oklahoma Infectious Disease Citizen Science Project was initiated in spring 2016 and supplies genetic sample collection kits to the public in order to retrieve more data than lab members can collect alone.
Siler said the citizen science project targets Oklahoma educators to reach a large audience and raise awareness of transferable amphibian diseases. “We’ve kind of developed this study as a way to get additional data from sites that we can’t get to physically ourselves, but also provide a really cool science activity for the teachers,” said Jessa Watters, manager of the Herpetology Collection at the Sam Noble Museum. Kits are sent free of charge to teachers who have access to local ponds or streams, Watters said. Participants are asked to swab the skin of frogs and send them back to the herpetology lab, where lab members will test the swabs for a virulent chytrid fungus, Siler said.