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Science on Tap: Pollutants and Amphibians

Katie Thoresen

Amphibian populations worldwide have been declining.

Jessica Hua says they’re affected by a wide range of stressors ranging from infectious diseases to habitat change to climate change to pollutants in the environment.

She’s an associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“I'm specifically interested in pollutants because they are ubiquitous. They're interesting because they can have effects in large doses. Large doses can lead to mortality, but also they have impacts in small doses. Small doses may not cause mortality, but these small amounts of chemicals may still have negative effects by making organisms like the amphibians in our area more susceptible to other stresses,” said Hua.

Hua will be talking about the effect of pollutants on amphibians at October’s Science on Tap.

But it will also go beyond amphibians.

“What happens when there are multiple individuals interacting with each other? How does that make road salts affect them? What happens when there are other stressors in their environment like parasites? How does that influence susceptibility to salt? And then important to us, how do we better communicate the work to broader audiences?” said Hua.

The communication aspect has also been a large portion of her work.

She’s seen success in using graphic novels and art shows to generate interest in science topics.

“Knowing who you're targeting the communication to is important in when to use these nontraditional resources because they work better in people with non-STEM backgrounds, and also knowing your purpose. If it is to generate interest in the work, nontraditional resources work great, but if it is to communicate and teach than the traditional resources work better,” said Hua.

Science on Tap is this Thursday, October 5th at 6:30 p.m.

The location has changed to Rocky Reef Brewing Company in Woodruff.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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