Prof Barry Clarke PhD

Professor Barry Clarke
  • Senior Curator, Amphibia
  • Life Sciences department
  • Vertebrates Division
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment History

Visiting Professor, 

Curator, Amphibians and Reptiles, Band 4, The Natural History Museum, 2001–present

Curator, Amphibians and Reptiles, The Natural History Museum, 1975–2001


  • PhD, Zoology, Council for National Academic Awards, 1988
  • MSc, Modern Taxonomy, Council for National Academic Awards, 1988
  • BSc, Zoology, University of London, 1973



Curatorial responsibility for the Amphibian and Reptile collections with special responsibility for the amphibians numbering some 90,000 specimens . The collections and section library are used by a wide range of biologists including biogeographers, conservationists and ecologists as well as morphologists and taxonomists. The Museum has the taxonomically most diverse collection of African amphibians in the world, and is particularly rich in type specimens.

Special projects

Non-invasive, non-destructive methods and approaches in collections-based research. The world's wildlife as an invaluable, irreplaceable resource. Museum collections include species that are extinct, endangered or are vulnerable in the wild. The use of such a limited finite resource carries a special responsibility for the protection of museum specimens for use by future generations.  Two on-going curatorial research projects: (a) a survey of non- and minimally-invasive approaches will be carried out and specific examples will also be investigated e.g., glycoproteins and glycosidase enzymes from granular gland secretions in toads, genus Bufo, and (b) sampling museum specimens for the presence of disease-producing organisms; see paper on on Non-invasive sampling methods for the detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in archived amphibians” (de Soto, Clarke, Fisher, Walker and Cunningham 2009 Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 84, 163-166).There are obvious links with research methods in animal conservation.


Research Interests

Emerging infectious diseases and global amphibian declines. The role and use of natural history museums in animal conservation with special reference to emerging infectious diseases in amphibians, e.g., chytridiomycosis and the ranaviruses, (with Dr David Perry, University of Westminster). Collaborative project on chytrid infection and population declines in Darwin’s frog, Rhinoderma darwinii with Dr Andrew Cunningham (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London) and  Claudio Soto-Azat (Universidad Andre Bello, Chile).

Developing the logic behind, and the use of, non-destructive and non-invasive sampling methods in taxonomy as a significant advance in curatorial methodology for obtaining data from type specimens, and rare and endangered or extinct amphibians in museum collections. Parallels with, and co-development of, methods for use in conservation biology research.

The taxonomy and classification of frogs and toads from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania with some descriptions of new species of leaf-folding frogs (genus Afrixalus) and sedge frogs (genus Hyperolius, H. spinigularis species group).

Burrowing in anuran amphibians: relating morphology to ecological niches and microhabitats. To contribute a chapter to Volume 10 on Biomechanics in the series Amphibian Biology

Species concepts.  Logical problems with species’ definitions and an examination of what species are in reality rather than as a concept or definition.


Dr Andrew Cunningham, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London. Emerging infectious wildlife diseases, esp. chytridiomycosis and ranaviruses, and their role in global decline and extinction in anuran amphibians. Sampling archived and museum specimens of widely distributed introduced species, e.g., American Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana and Cane Toad, Bufo marinus for presence and earliest incidence of chytrid fungus.

Dr David Perry, Department of Life Sciences, University of Westminster.  Amphibian skin secretions and protein fingerprinting in toads, genus Bufo, sensu lato.

Claudio Soto-Azat,  Universidad Andres Bello Republica Santiago, Chile. Origin of chytridiomycosis and use of non-invasive, non-destructive sampling methods to detect presence of chytrid fungus in preserved archived and museum specimens.

Dr Michele Menegon, Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, Trento, Italy and  Dr Simon Loader, Institute of Biogeography, University of Basel, Switzerland. Amphibian Biodiversity in a major biodiversity hotspot—Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania.The morphological and molecular systematics of frogs and toads from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, with some new species descriptions of leaf-folding (genus Afrixalus) and sedge frogs (genus Hyperolius).


Soto-Azat, C, CLARKE, B T , Poynton, J C and Cunningham, A A. 2010. Widespread historical presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in African pipid frogs. Diversity and Distributions 16: 126-131. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4624.2009.00618.x

Soto-Azat, C, CLARKE B T, Fisher, M C, Walker, S F and Cunningham, A A 2009. Non-invasive sampling methods for the detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in archived amphibians. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 84: 163-166. doi: 10.3354/dao02029

CLARKE, B T 2007. Comparative morphology and amphibian taxonomy: an example from the osteology of discoglossoid frogs. Chapter 3 in: Amphibian Biology Volume 7 Systematics (Eds H. Heatwole, M J Tyler) Surrey Beatty & Sons), pp. 2465-2612.

Poynton, J C, Loader, S P, Sherrat, E and CLARKE,  B T 2007. Amphibian diversity in an East African biodiversity hotspot: altitudinal and latitudinal patterns. Biodiversity and Conservation 16: 1103-1118. doi 10.1007/s10531-006-9074-1

CLARKE, B T and Poynton, J C  2005 A new species of Stream frog, genus Strongylopus (Anura: Ranidae) from Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, with comments on a ‘northern volcanic mountains group’ within the genus. African Journal of Herpetology 54: 53-60.

Loader, S  P , Gower,  D  J  , Howell,  K  M , Doggart,  N , Rödel,  M-O , CLARKE,  B T,  de Sá,  R O, Cohen, B L.  and Wilkinson, M   2004 Phylogenetic relationships of African microhylid frogs inferred from DNA sequences of mitochondrial 12S and 16S rRNA genes. Organisms, Diversity & Evolution 4: 227-235. doi: 10.1016/j.ode.2004.01.005

CLARKE, B T  2001 Towards a natural classification of African toads (Anura, Bufonidae): past progress and future prospects. African Journal of Herpetology 50: 19-30

Poynton J C  and CLARKE, B T  1999  Two new species of Stephopaedes (Anura: Bufonidae) from Tanzania, with a review of the genus.  African Journal of Herpetology 48: 1-14

Poynton, J C , Howell, CLARKE, B T  and Lovett, J C  1998 (1999)  A critically endangered new species of Nectophrynoides (Anura: Bufonidae) from the Kihansi Gorge, Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania.  African Journal of Herpetology 47: 59-67.

Campbell, J A. and CLARKE, B T 1998  A review of frogs of the genus Otophryne (Microhylidae) with the description of a new species.  Herpetologica 54: 301-317. 16. 

CLARKE, B T 1997  The natural history of amphibian skin secretions, their normal function and potential applications.  Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 72: 365-379.

CLARKE, B T  1996  Small size in amphibians - its ecological and evolutionary implications. In: Zoological Society of London Symposia 69 Miniature vertebrates The Implications of Small Body Size, pp. 201-224.

CLARKE, B T  1995  Comment on the proposed conservation of Phrynobatrachinae Laurent, 1941 (Amphibia, Anura). Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 52 (4): 342-344.

Hays, G C and CLARKE, B T 1995  The origin of ovigerous Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta) recorded in Northern Europe.  Herpetological Journal 5: 323-324.

CLARKE, B T  1994  Toads as a source of useful molecules.  In: Discovering Drugs from Nature: Novel Approaches and New Sources. Conference Symposium Volume, International Business Communications Technical Services Limited, Pharmaceutical R & D Division, 15 pp.

CLARKE, B T  and Lanza, B. 1990 (1991)   Notes on the morphology and distribution of the Corsican Painted Frogs: Discoglossus sardus Tschudi, and D. montalentii Lanza, Nascetti, Capula and Bullini.  Bollettino del Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino 8: 531-544.

CLARKE, B T 1989  Real vs apparent distributions of dwarf amphibians: Bufo lindneri Mertens 1955 - a case in point.  Amphibia-Reptilia 10: 297-306.

CLARKE, B T 1988 (1989).  The amphibian fauna of the East African rainforests, including the description of a new species of toad, genus Nectophrynoides Noble 1926 (Anura Bufonidae).  Tropical Zoology 1: 169-177.

CLARKE, B T  1987   A description of the skeletal morphology of Barbourula (Anura: Discoglossidae), with comments on its relationships.  Journal of Natural History 21: 879-891.

CLARKE, B T  1985 (1987).  Amphibian bones.  pp 116-118 in: Armitage, P.L. and West, B. Faunal evidence from a late Medieval garden well of the Greyfriars, London. Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society 36: 107-136.

CLARKE, B T  (1985).  Discoglossidae and Leiopelmatidae In: Frost, D.R., (Ed.).  Amphibian Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographical Reference.  Allen Press Inc. and The Association of Systematics Collections, pp. 105-108 and 233-234

CLARKE, B T   (1984).  Chapter 3.  General skeletal morphology [of Midwife toads, genus Alytes, with special reference to a newly described species from Mallorca],  In: Hemmer, H., and Alcover, J.A., (Eds.) Historia Biologica del Ferreret (Life History of the Mallorcan Midwife Toad). Cuitat de Mallorca : Editorial Moll, pp. 45-59.

Dubois, A., Morere, J-J., Stimson, A.F. and CLARKE, B T   (1983b). Kassina Girard, 1853 (Amphibia, Anura): proposed conservation by the suppression of Eremiophilus Fitzinger, 1843 under the Plenary Powers.  Z.N. (S.) 2343. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 40: 114-116.

CLARKE, B T   (1983a).  A morphological re-examination of the frog genus Nannophrys (Anura: Ranidae) with comments on its biology, distributions and relationships.  Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 79: 377-398.

CLARKE, B.T. (1982).  A new genus of ranine frog (Anura: Ranidae) from Somalia.  Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Zoology series 43: 179-183.

CLARKE, B T  (1981).  Comparative osteology and evolutionary relationships in the African Raninae (Anura Ranidae).  Monitore zoologico italiano (The Italian Journal of Zoology) (N.S.) 15: 285-331.