Honorary Professor J Roger Downie

Honorary Professor J Roger Downie

Contact details:
Room 207, Graham Kerr Building
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences
University of Glasgow
Glasgow
G12 8QQ

Tel.: 0141 330 5157
Fax: 0141 330 5971
E-mail: Roger.Downie@glasgow.ac.uk

Marine turtle conservation and ecotourism on Trinidad's north coast; Personal development planning and employability programme for IBLS undergraduate and postgraduate students; Trinidad expeditions: research into reproductive ecology and conservation of Trinidad's amphibians; The post-metamorphic consequences of larval phenotypic plasticity; Phylogeography and molecular ecology of predators and prey on Trinidad and Tobago; Diversity and development of larval-specific structures in anuran amphibians.

Reproductive ecology of tropical frogs, especially foam nesting species

Reproductive ecology of tropical frogs, especially foam nesting species

Mainly on Leptodactylines in Trinidad: functions of foam nests, parental care, cost benefit analysis of foam nesting strategy including effects of attacks by 'frogflies'.

Leptodactylus fuscus adult Leptodactylus fuscus foam nest

Leptodactylus fuscus lays its eggs, wrapped in foam, in burrows close to the sites of temporary pools.

Tadpoles hatch out, then make a new kind of foam in which they can exist for up to several weeks - in a state of arrested development - till rain fills the pool: a successful strategy where rainfall is unpredictable and patchy. A problem is that phorid flies of the genus Megaselia can oviposit in the foam nests and consume the eggs before they hatch.

Mannophryne (= Colostethus) trinitatis, Trinidad's only Dendrobatid frog, lives alongside tiny streams in the Northern Range forests and by the stream running through the cave system in Mount Tamana. We have been assessing growth rates of tadpoles in these very nutrient-poor streams, and trying to work out how tadpoles avoid predation by the fish Rivulus harti, abundant in many of the streams.

Pseudis paradoxa tadpole Pseudis paradoxa

Pseudis paradoxa, the paradoxical frog, has huge tadpoles which become smaller adults which grow no further. We have been looking at the ecological factors that may have allowed the evolution of this unique life history strategy.

Morphological variation and adaptations in early amphibian stages

Morphological variation and adaptations in early amphibian stages

Developmental biologists have concentrated very heavily on understanding development in a single species of frog Xenopus laevis. This makes a lot of sense in terms of unravelling molecular signalling, but leaves out a lot of the variation that relates development to its habitat. We are looking at variation in ciliation patterns, hatchling glands, adhesive glands etc. in a wide variety of genera, including those with direct development.

Eleutherodactylus urichi - frog embryoEleutherodactylus urichi: species of this neotropical genus of frogs develop directly into froglets without passing through the tadpole stage. Embryos of rather few of the 200 plus species have been studied, so it is unclear how much diversity occurs in patterns of early development. The group is a vital one in the study of how fundamental body plans can be modified during evolution.

Development of adhesive pads in frogs, and their contribution to behaviour

Development of adhesive pads in frogs, and their contribution to behaviour

Adhesive toe-pads have evolved in a wide variety of frog genera and families, apparently independently. We have examined the morphological variability and development of these structures, and are currently investigating ontological changes in adhesive strength as newly metamorphosed tree frogs grow to adulthood - and also how adhesive strength relates to the different locomotary patterns shown by different frogs.

Bioethical and teaching strategy issues in the Higher Education of biologists

Bioethical and teaching strategy issues in the Higher Education of biologists

Current work is on the teaching of Bioethical issues in biology degree courses, the teaching of evolution to 'non-believers' and the uses of animals in education.

Marine turtle breeding biology and conservation

Marine turtle breeding biology and conservation

Through the University of Glasgow expeditions to Cyprus and Trinidad, I have developed an interest in marine turtle nesting - especially the influence of temperature on sex determination; and on turtle conservation, especially the role of education and tourism in generating a basis for a locally organised conservation effort.

Great Crested Newt translocation, Gartcosh

Great Crested Newt translocation, Gartcosh

The site of demonlished steelworks at Gartcosh, north Lanarkshire, contains one of Scotland's biggest great crested newt popultions.  Because of re-development priorities, the newts have been moved to a new set of specially created ponds on the periphery of the site.  We are studying the success of this translocation, the biggest of its kind in Scotland.

Amphibian metamorphosis

Amphibian metamorphosis

The internal controls that regulate amphibian metamorphosis are well understood, but the ecological factors related to metamorphosis are less thoroughly researched.  We have looked at metamorphic duration across different species and at the phenomenon of tadpole over-wintering.