Wonderwise

About the Scientist

Janalee Caldwell is a biologist and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She studies poison frogs and other amphibians in the Amazon rainforest to learn how they live and interact with other species in this intensely competitive world.

Janalee Caldwell

Biography of Janalee Paige Caldwell

Find out more about Janalee on the Rainforest Ecologist CD-ROM. The complete biography is 12 pages and includes a glossary.

For four months every year, biologist Janalee Caldwell leaves the comfort of her beautiful country stone home in Oklahoma to live in a makeshift lean-to fashioned from trees and plastic deep in the rainforests of the Amazon Basin in South America. She and her biologist husband, Laurie Vitt, trek into isolated areas of unexplored forests to find out what kinds of frogs and reptiles live there. Janalee is interested in frogs. Her husband does research on lizards and snakes.

To do her research, Janalee spends many hours each day standing in the forest observing frogs and tadpoles through binoculars. She takes notes or talks into a tape recorder to have a record of what she sees and hears. She frequently goes out at night, walking miles into the forest with a headlight strapped to her forehead, because some animals she and her husband want to find only come out at night.Frog

Janalee collects samples of the forest's frog population, photographs them, and kills them quickly in a solution. The she removes their stomachs with tiny surgical instruments so that she can examine the stomach contents to find out what prey the frog has eaten. Janalee preserves the frogs so that they can be seen in museums and borrowed for study by people all over the world. She also writes articles for scientific journals on her new findings about the behavior of frogs and the relationships between frogs and insects. This helps scientists know more about the ecology of rainforests.

Together, Janalee and Laurie are in charge of a collection of over 35,000 amphibians and reptiles at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Amphibians such as frogs are animals that can live both on land and in water. Janalee is associate curator and Laurie is curator of amphibians and reptiles. Janalee is also associate professor of zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

(excerpted from the biography written by Mary Knudson, and the entire biography is available on the Rainforest Ecologist CD-ROM.)

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9909496.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).