Information & resources on frog conservation.

Michel Ohmer


Michel Elizabeth Ohmer

Michel studied the susceptibility of native New Zealand frogs, specifically Leiopelma pakeka and L. hochstetteri, to the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). She is also investigated modes of transmission of the fungus in the environment, both directly through individual contact and indirectly via moist substrate and water.  Understanding the dynamics of chytridiomycosis infection and transmission in New Zealand’s threatened native frogs has important implications for the feasibility of future translocations to areas currently inhabited by Bd-infected populations, and will play a pivotal role in the continued success of their conservation management.


MSc Zoology, 2009-2011, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Thesis: Chytriodiomycosis in native New Zealand frogs (Leiopelmatidae): Susceptibility, transmission, and implications for management
Supervisor: Associate Professor Phil Bishop

BSc with Honours Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2004, Cornell University, New York, USA, magna cum laude
Thesis: Phenotypic variation across genetically distinct regions of a Neotropical anuran: discordance in body size, colour pattern, and advertisement call
Supervisor: Professor Kelly Zamudio

Fellowships and Awards

Nov 2009    Marion Fyfe Prize in Zoology $500, for the female student who attained the highest level of achievement in Zoology at 400-level
Oct 2009    Runner-Up Best Student Presentation award, Zoology Postgraduate Research Symposium
May 2009    University of Otago Fulbright Award Extension Fellowship $13,000 annual stipend and international tuition fees, to complete MSc
Feb 2008    Fulbright Graduate Student Award to Study Native Frogs in New Zealand $16,960 annual stipend, return airfare, and tuition fees
Aug 2007    Scholar Abroad Scholarship, National Society for Collegiate Scholars $5,000, to support study abroad in Costa Rica
Jan 2007    Writing in the Majors Knight Prize. For best paper written in a ‘Writing in the Majors’ class (Neurobiology and Behavior), essay published, first person to win twice
July 2007    Scholarship to attend Tropical Ecology field course, School for Field Studies, Australia
Oct 2006    National Science Foundation/ Research Experience for Undergraduates Conference Attendance Grant.To present poster at International Landscape Ecology Conference in Tucson, AZ
Oct 2006    Sigma Xi Superior Poster Award in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Awarded at annual meeting in Detroit, MI
Oct 2006    Sigma Xi Travel Scholarship to attend annual research conference in Detroit, MI
Summer 2006    Awarded position in Research Experience for Undergraduates program in Juneau, AK, University of Alaska Southeast. Summer living stipend and funding for research project with Dr. Sanjay Pyare
Feb. 2006    Invited to join the Ho-Nun-De-Kah College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Honour Society (top 15% of future Junior class)
Dec. 2005    Writing in the Majors Knight Prize. For best paper written in a ‘Writing in the Majors’ class (Evolutionary Biology)
Aug 2005-08    President's Council of Cornell Women/Cornell Tradition Fellowship $4,000 annual scholarship for excellence in undergraduate service, work, and scholarship
Aug 2004    Joseph Grossman Scholarship to attend Cornell University $15,000 annually, private donor
July 2004    International Baccalaureate Diploma Recipient. Highest academic achievement available to a graduate from my secondary school

Research and Teaching Experience

Michelfrog.gif March 2010    Demonstrator for CELS 191, first year Cell and Molecular Biology course, University of Otago
2008-2009    Research and Conservation Intern, Santa Barbara Zoo, California, USA
Fieldwork, data entry, and analysis involving major zoo conservation projects, including the Nest Guarding Program for endangered California Condor and Channel Island Fox population studies
2007    Semester abroad in Costa Rica, Organization for Tropical Studies
Independent, student-developed group field projects in rainforest and marsh environments, (Assortative Mating in Agalychnis callidrya; Anthropogenic Noise Effects on Leptodactylus melanonotus)
2007    Demonstrator for advanced undergraduate course: The Vertebrates: Structure, Function, and Evolution, Cornell University. Instructed laboratory section, developed exam questions and marked exams
2007    Tropical Ecology field course, School for Field Studies in Australia. Independent and group research projects, learned critical field biology techniques
2007-2008    Research Assistant for the Zamudio lab, Cornell University, performing frog acoustic communication analyses
Summer 2006    Research Experience for Undergraduates program, University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, Alaska, USA
Research topic: Landscape ecology of the declining Boreal toad (Bufo boreas)
Mentor: Dr. Sanjay Pyare. Intensive field research and surveying; individual research project and scientific presentation
July 2005    Cornell Tropical Field Research Class in Kenya. Designed and implemented field research project, learned field techniques while living on the Africa savannah

Professional Societies

Member of the following societies:
•    Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
•    Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
•    American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
•    Herpetologists’ League
•    Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New ZealandMichelAgalychnis.gif


M. E. Ohmer, J. M. Robertson and K. R. Zamudio. 2009. Discordance in body size, color pattern, and advertisement call across genetically distinct regions of a neotropical anuran (Dendropsophus ebraccatus). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 97: 298-313.
M. E. Ohmer. 2007. “Challenging Classic Sexual Selection Theory: The Baby Became the Bathwater Years Ago, But No One Noticed Until Now”. Discoveries No. 9. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
M. E. Ohmer. 2006. "DNA Barcoding as a Solution in the Speciation Debate?: The Cautionary Tale of the African Elephant”. Discoveries No. 8. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Publications (In Review)

M. E. Ohmer and P. Bishop. Citation rate and perceived subject bias in the amphibian decline literature. Submitted to Conservation Biology, 2010.


M. E. Ohmer and P. Bishop. 2009. Chytridiomycosis in native New Zealand frogs (Leiopelma spp.): Susceptibility and implications for management. Wildlife Diseases Association Australasian conference, the Catlins, New Zealand. Oral Presentation.

M. E. Ohmer and P.Bishop. 2009. Chytridiomycosis in native New Zealand frogs (Leiopelma  spp.): Susceptibility and implications for management. Zoology Postgraduate Research Symposium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Oral Presentation.

M. E. Ohmer, M. Santiago, and S. Pyare. 2007. Bufo boreas habitat preference at two spatial scales: the dual significance of microhabitat characteristics and landscape connectivity. US-International Association of Landscape Ecology 22nd Annual Conference, Tuscon, AZ. Poster presentation.

M. E. Ohmer, and S. Pyare. 2006. The Relationship Between Wetland Microhabitat Characteristics and Boreal Toad Breeding. Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference, Detroit, Michigan. Poster presentation.