Ecology of chytridiomycosis in rainforest stream frog assemblages of tropical Queensland

Woodhams, Douglas C., and Alford, Ross A. (2005) Ecology of chytridiomycosis in rainforest stream frog assemblages of tropical Queensland. Conservation Biology, 19 (5). pp. 1449-1459.

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Abstract

In the wet tropics of Queensland, Australia, eight species of stream-dwelling frogs have experienced population declines. Some declines were associated with an emerging infectious disease of amphibians (chytridiomycosis) caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. We examined the spatial and temporal pattern of infection prevalence in a sample of frog populations. Infected adults and tadpoles of all species were found, and infections occurred at every site. Infection prevalence varied among species and was always < 10.0% in adults but ranged from 0.75 to 76.0% in tadpoles. In this system tadpoles and adults of some species may act as disease reservoirs, experiencing avirulent infections, whereas other hosts (declining species) experience virulent infections. Infection prevalence was higher during the cool, dry winter season (May to September) and at high elevations (600–800 m), suggesting regulation by environmental conditions, including temperature and precipitation. We found no relationships between infection prevalence and mean body condition, fluctuating asymmetry of hind limbs, population density, or the presence of metamorphosing tadpoles and juvenile frogs. Although it is not certain whether chytridiomycosis was responsible for past frog population declines in the wet tropics of Queensland, the pathogen is now endemic. Our data indicate that at the landscape level, environmental conditions have strong effects on host-pathogen dynamics. These effects interact with species-specific behavior or immune function and may be important underlying determinants of chytridiomycosis epizootics and emergence.

Item ID: 6120
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: amphibian; Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis; chytrid; disease ecology; infection prevalence; reservoir host; tadpole
ISSN: 1523-1739
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2010 04:19
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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