Brian Gratwicke is a conservation biologist and leads the amphibian conservation programs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Brian’s focus is building capacity to conserve amphibians in Appalachia and Panama, developing outreach and educational programs and exhibits to build public support for amphibian conservation, and research to develop tools to reintroduce amphibians back into the wild. At SCBI, Brian collaborates with Panamanian conservation biologists and zoo partners to build an ex situ amphibian facility in Panama. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project based at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa maintains and grows captive assurance populations of species most heavily affected by the deadly amphibian chytrid fungus. One major research focus is developing applied solutions for the amphibian chytrid fungus, including research into the area of beneficial skin bacteria and identifying genetic traits associated with resistance to the disease. He also conducts research into emerging diseases and the effects of climate change on Appalachian salamanders.

Gratwicke grew up in Zimbabwe and began his conservation work researching the impacts to freshwater fish in Africa. In 2000, he was awarded a Rhodes scholarship that took him to Oxford, where he studied marine fish communities in the British Virgin Islands for his doctorate. After completing his doctorate, Gratwicke moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a program administrator and then assistant director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Save the Tiger Fund.

Research Interests

Amphibian conservation biologist based at SCBI in Front Royal. Working on Appalachian salamanders and Neotropical amphibians threatened by the amphibian chytrid fungus. 


Amphibian Nutrition

Conservationists are establishing healthy amphibian populations in human care, called amphibian arks, for up to 2,000 species likely to go extinct in the next decade.


Frogs, toads, salamanders and newts are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Smithsonian scientists are working to save amphibians through projects focused in Panama and Appalachia.

Climate Change and Salamanders

Smithsonian scientists are identifying and monitoring the impact of climate change by studying salamanders.

Detecting Rare Salamanders Using Environmental DNA

How do you find an elusive salamander that lives under large rocks at the bottom of cold, rushing streams? Scientists are using eDNA to track the hellbender!

Emerging Diseases in Salamanders

Smithsonian scientists and partners provide free test kits for salamander pet owners to screen their animals for deadly diseases that are spread through the international pet trade.

Gamete and Embryo Technologies

Smithsonian scientists study reproductive biology to advance conservation science.

Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project

Scientists have established assurance colonies of amphibians at risk of extinction across Panama, and are working to reduce the impact of amphibian chytrid fungus so they may one day be reintroduced to the wild.

Relationship Between Skin Microbiomes and Disease Outcomes

Scientists are studying the natural communities of bacteria on frogs' skin for antifungal properties that may help some frogs resist, or survive, the deadly infection caused by chytrid fungus.