The O'Connell Lab studies the evolution of adaptive traits. We take a systems approach to understanding the molecular mechanisms of how an individual functions within its environment on multiple levels of biological organization.
Poison frogs sequester defensive chemicals through their diet, but how they sequester these chemicals and how the frogs have evolved resistance to these toxins is unknown. We are working to understand the mechanisms of toxin sequestration and modification in the Little Devil frogs (Oophaga sylvatica).
Population Genetics and Conservation
Amphibian populations are declining worldwide due to habitat loss and the spread of harmful pathogens. We have partnered with the Centro Jambatu and WIKIRI to use the genomics tools developed in the O'Connell Lab to aid in conservation efforts by tracking populations of Ecuadorian amphibians, particularly Oophaga sylvatica.