Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as the chytrid fungus, is ravaging frog and salamander populations around the world, and in some cases, it is threatening entire populations with extinction. The red-backed salamander, which can be found on the grounds of the Louis Calder Center, is not affected, however.

“People often ask me, why are you studying this salamander that doesn’t seem to be vulnerable to it, to study this fungus?” said Elle Barnes, a Ph.D. candidate working at the center.

“My answer is, ‘Why isn’t it vulnerable? What is it about this salamander that’s making it not die from the fungus that’s clearly in its general area?”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Calder Center, we sat down with Barnes to learn more about her research there.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.