Amphibian disease risk higher in undisturbed habitats

May 30, 2011

Amphibians may be more susceptible to disease in undisturbed natural habitats, a study in this week's issue of PNAS finds.

Guilherme Becker and Kelly Zamudio examined tropical across Costa Rica and eastern Australia to identify relationships between what many researchers believe are the two primary causes of global amphibian decline: habitat loss and a disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).

Paradoxically, the authors report that amphibians in pristine habitats are more likely to be infected by Bd, whereas in locations where deforestation has significantly disturbed the , the pathogen causes fewer and less intense infections.

The authors propose that altering the natural habitat may disrupt the microclimate in which Bd thrives, or that habitat loss, which reduces and the number of susceptible hosts, hampers the pathogen's ability to spread.

But because most tropical frogs cannot tolerate deforestation, the authors caution, a lowered threat of disease in these ecosystems is unlikely to offer respite to declining amphibian species.

The findings suggest instead that researchers must better understand how habitat loss and disease interact if they hope to accurately predict trends in future , according to the authors.

Explore further: Killer fungus threatening amphibians

More information: "Tropical amphibian populations experience higher disease risk in natural habitats," by C. Guilherme Becker and Kelly Zamudio, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2011).

Related Stories

Killer fungus threatening amphibians

November 23, 2009

Amphibians like frogs and toads have existed for 360 million years and survived when the dinosaurs didn't, but a new aquatic fungus is threatening to make many of them extinct, according to an article in the November issue ...

Amphibians may develop immunity to fatal fungus

April 1, 2009

Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, principally because of the spread of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis. Researchers know that some amphibian populations and species are innately more susceptible to the disease ...

Recommended for you

Study shows how giraffe assassin bugs outwit spider prey

October 26, 2016

(—A biologist at Macquarie University in Australia has discovered the secret behind the giraffe assassin's ability to catch and kill spiders in their webs. In his paper published on the open access site Royal Society ...

New analysis of big data sheds light on cell functions

October 26, 2016

Researchers have developed a new way of obtaining useful information from big data in biology to better understand—and predict—what goes on inside a cell. Using genome-scale models, researchers were able to integrate ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.