Nina D’Amore, PhD


Nina D’Amore

PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve


Nina completed her undergraduate work at UC Berkeley from 1998-2002, and her graduate work at UCSC from 2002-2007. She recieved her PhD from UCSC in November 2007. Her thesis work focused on the ecology of freshwater wetlands surrounding the Monterey Bay and specifically on the ecology and recovery of the federally threatened California red-legged frog.

I.D. nina in dodder
Nina conducting field work on pickleweed and dodder.



Part of Nina’s research identified the suite of habitat and landscape characteristics that are correlated with the distribution of five local amphibian species, including the federally endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander. Covering three years of distributional data, GIS -based spatial analyses and over forty different field sites throughout the Elkhorn Slough watershed, this work highlighted how greater sensitivity to anthropogenic impacts has left the California red-legged frog with considerably less suitable habitat when compared to other local species. This work identified threats to specific habitat and laid the groundwork for later habitat restoration and freshwater management.

I.B.b.3 red-legged frog
Red-Legged Frog pictured above.

Nina also examined the population dynamics and habitat usage of the California red-legged frog, through a large-scale mark-recapture study, and radio-telemetry of individual frogs. She has been able to gain survivorship and growth rate estimates from this data, as well as understand how these threatened amphibians move through the upland habitat and change ponds.

Through gathering the movement data, she also became interested in California red-legged frog interactions with an invasive competitor and predator, the American bullfrog. The American bullfrog is listed on the IUCN’s list of 100 worst invasive species, and understanding how this invader impacts native fauna is a major conservation priority. She documented significant changes in microhabitat usage of native frogs in response to bullfrogs, as well as high numbers of unsuccessful attempts at breeding between the two species. Her thesis work in general addresses topics key for conservation of threatened amphibians and broadly asks questions about how linkages between sites affect population viability.

She collaborates extensively with Valentine Hemingway, of Dan Doak’s lab here at UCSC and will be working with Valentine on modeling population viability of the California red-legged frog. Nina started a postdoctoral position coordinating freshwater research, restoration and monitoring at the Elkhorn Slough Foundation in January, 2008.


D’Amore A, Hemingway V. and Wasson K. In review. Aquatic habitat and upland landscape characteristics predict distribution and reproduction of amphibians in Elkhorn Slough, California

D’Amore A, Kirby E, and Hemingway V. In review. Behaviorally-mediated reproductive interference by an invasive species: an evolutionary trap?

D’Amore A, Kirby E, and McNicholas M. In prep. Invasive American bullfrog shifts microhabitat usage of a threatened native amphibian

D’Amore A. In prep. Survivorship, movement patterns and growth of the California red-legged frog, Rana draytonii