Until last month, Dr. Gary Ten Eyck had to travel thousands of miles to conduct research on the reproductive habits of coqui frogs. Now that he has joined the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy, he can simply walk out the back door.
Ten Eyck hopes his research will aid in the understanding of the reproductive biology of an introduced, alien species that is cause for concern to Hawaii residents both economically and environmentally.
“Some people love them, some people hate them,” Ten Eyck said. “As a biologist, I just find them very interesting. Studying the problem sheds an overall light on the species. A better understanding of the coqui will help us to know the consequences of controlling them on the environment and other issues.”
Ten Eyck joins UH Hilo from New York University. He plans to continue his research at the College of Pharmacy to work toward controlling the coqui.
“The addition of another world-class researcher to the College of Pharmacy is another step toward building Hilo into a community that will be able to survive the new economy,” said John M. Pezzuto, dean of the College of Pharmacy. “Dr. Ten Eyck’s enthusiasm and faith in moving here serves to reaffirm our commitment to improving the quality of life in Hawaii, and we’re happy to welcome him to the UH Hilo ʻohana.”
Results of studies in Ten Eyck’s laboratories have made a connection between the noises coquis make at night to territorial, or aggressive behavior. By using a drug called an agonist, scientists were able to cease calling and aggressive behavior altogether in coqui males.
“We have also found that a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, such as Prozac, has profound effects on the development of male social and aggressive behavior,” said Ten Eyck. “Frogs that are given this drug in our laboratory study typically do not develop calling or aggressive behaviors.”