Priorities for management of chytridiomycosis in Australia: saving frogs from extinction

Skerratt, Lee F., Berger, Lee, Clemann, Nick, Hunter, Dave A., Marantelli, Gerry, Newell, David A., Philips, Annie, McFadden, Michael, Hines, Harry B., Scheele, Ben C., Brannelly, Laura A., Speare, Rick, Versteegen, Stephanie, Cashins, Scott D., and West, Matt (2016) Priorities for management of chytridiomycosis in Australia: saving frogs from extinction. Wildlife Research, 43 (2). pp. 105-120.

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Abstract

To protect Australian amphibian biodiversity, we have identified and prioritised frog species at an imminent risk of extinction from chytridiomycosis, and devised national management and research priorities for disease mitigation. Six Australian frogs have not been observed in the wild since the initial emergence of chytridiomycosis and may be extinct. Seven extant frog species were assessed as needing urgent conservation interventions because of (1) their small populations and/or ongoing declines throughout their ranges (southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree, New South Wales), northern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales), Baw Baw frog (Philoria frosti, Victoria), Litoria spenceri (spotted tree frog, Victoria, New South Wales), Kroombit tinkerfrog (Taudactylus pleione, Queensland), armoured mist frog (Litoria lorica, Queensland)) or (2) predicted severe decline associated with the spread of chytridiomycosis in the case of Tasmanian tree frog (Litoria burrowsae, Tasmania). For these species, the risk of extinction is high, but can be mitigated. They require increased survey effort to define their distributional limits and to monitor and detect further population changes, as well as well-resourced management strategies that include captive assurance populations. A further 22 frog species were considered at a moderate to lower risk of extinction from chytridiomycosis. Management actions that identify and create or maintain habitat refugia from chytridiomycosis and target other threatening processes such as habitat loss and degradation may be effective in promoting their recovery. Our assessments for some of these species remain uncertain and further taxonomical clarification is needed to determine their conservation importance. Management actions are currently being developed and trialled to mitigate the threat posed by chytridiomycosis. However, proven solutions to facilitate population recovery in the wild are lacking; hence, we prioritise research topics to achieve this aim. Importantly, the effectiveness of novel management solutions will likely differ among species due to variation in disease ecology, highlighting the need for species-specific research. We call for an independent management and research fund of AU$15 million over 5 years to be allocated to recovery actions as determined by a National Chytridiomycosis Working Group of amphibian managers and scientists. Procrastination on this issue will likely result in additional extinction of Australia's amphibians in the near future.

Item ID: 43649
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: amphibian conservation, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, biodiversity, population declines, wildlife disease
ISSN: 1448-5494
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FT100100375, ARC DP120100811, ARC LP110200240
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2016 04:38
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070704 Veterinary Epidemiology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960405 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
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