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Winter Edition
Volume 97, Number 3

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Professor Erik Lindquist (left), with cinematographer Keith Brust, visited Panama to shoot footage for part of a BBC documentary about reptiles and amphibians.

Professor appears in BBC documentary

After 12 years of studying one of the rarest, most intriguing amphibians in the world, Erik Lindquist, associate professor of biology and environmental science, has been recruited to assist with the making of a new BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) documentary series, due to air in January 2008. “Life in Cold Blood,” a five-segment program on reptiles and amphibians, is being narrated by David Attenborough, who has been making nature documentaries since the mid-1950s.

Lindquist’s research of the Panamanian golden frog has led him to study the unique aspects of its behavior, including semaphoring (hand-signaling) in juveniles and adults, roosting in trees, and basking in the sun—many behaviors the BBC documentary aims to cover on film.

In December, Lindquist traveled to Panama with a BBC crew to begin filming the program. But by the time the documentary airs, Lindquist reports, zoos and televisions may be the only place where Panamanian golden frogs can be observed. A fungal pathogen, which is killing nearly 90 percent of all amphibians in Central America, is threatening the extinction of the wild Panamanian golden frog.

Despite the odds, Lindquist remains hopeful that, with the help of “Life in Cold Blood,” there may yet be hope for this unique species. “I’m hoping that the documentary will put teeth into conservation efforts that are already in place,” he explains, noting that deforestation has proven a significant threat to the Panamanian golden frog.

This summer, Lindquist will head for Costa Rica and Panama to finish shooting footage for the documentary. “When I took biology as an undergrad, I was required to watch Attenborough’s Life on Planet Earth series, and now I get to inform what will likely be one of his last documentaries,” he says. “It’s a thrill to work with such a legend.”

 —Dulcimer Hope Brubaker ’04

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