Monday, February 8, 2010

Toads are so cute, even when they're dead

For my science and museums class, we each have to do a project using museum specimens. I'm looking at Fowler's toads (Anaxyrus fowleri) from different localities and attempting to quantify their dorsal spot patterns.

The premise is this: Fowler's toads exhibit a wide variation in their spots - the number, size, the warts per spot, and the % area they take up. Some herpetologists think they can tell the locality of a toad simply by looking at their spots, and many field guide descriptions don't apply to Fowler's toads outside of certain ranges. So I'm setting out to see if these differences are real/statistically relevant.

I'm using photos of live specimens, and have also spent time taking my own photos of specimens sent to us from the AMNH. I spent about three and a half hours this afternoon taking photos and measurements.The toads are all so cute! Especially the little ones, some were only about 2cm long.

Once I have the photos, I'm using photoshop to select the back and get the area in pixils, and then creating a layer to color over the spots. Then using a program called tpsdig2 I can easily get the area for all the spots. Then all sorts of calculations must ensue, of course.
It's quite a fun project (tedious, but I like that) and I'm excited to see what sort of results I get.


TheFrogBag said...

What an interesting project! It never occurred to me that photoshop could be used like that, but it makes perfect sense now that you mention it.

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