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: Panamanian amphibians attacked by fungus

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

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 ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

Head and body lice read DNA differently

July 28, 2015

What makes head lice different from body lice had scientists scratching their heads as previous genetic studies failed to find any substantial differences between the two types of lice.

Plant light sensors came from ancient algae

July 28, 2015

The light-sensing molecules that tell plants whether to germinate, when to flower and which direction to grow were inherited millions of years ago from ancient algae, finds a new study from Duke University.

0 comments

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.