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: Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

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

Nov 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 ...

Amphibians may develop immunity to fatal fungus

Apr 01, 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

Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

Apr 17, 2015

The wreckage of a fishing boat that appears to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was carrying some unexpected passengers—fish from Japanese waters—when it was spotted off the Oregon coast.

Roadkill hot spots identified in California

Apr 17, 2015

An interactive map shows how California's state highway system is strewn with roadkill "hot spots," which are identified in a newly released report by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Da ...

Tagging and scanning for feral pigs

Apr 17, 2015

Innovative research using GPS tracking and thermal imagery is being used in an attempt to manage the destructive behaviour of feral pigs in the south-west.

User comments : 0

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.