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Inconclusiveness of Chytridiomycosis as the agent in widespread frog declines


McCallum, HI, Inconclusiveness of Chytridiomycosis as the agent in widespread frog declines, Conservation Biology, 19, (5) pp. 1421-1430. ISSN 0888-8892 (2005) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00217.x


Although there is considerable evidence to support the hypothesis that the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is the primary agent responsible for widespread declines in amphibian populations, particularly rainforest frog populations in Australia and Central America, I argue the case has not yet been made conclusively. Few specimens were collected at the time of population declines, so it may never be possible to conclusively determine their cause. It remains unclear whether the pathogen is novel where declines have occurred. Although it is not necessary that the infection be novel for it to be implicated in declines, if a preexisting pathogen has only recently caused extinctions, cofactors must be important. Whether the pattern of outbreaks represents a "wave" of extinctions is unclear, but if it does, the rate of spread in Australia is implausibly high for a waterborne pathogen, given the most likely estimates of epidemiological parameters. Although B. dendrobatidis is an amphibian pathogen according to Koch's postulates, the postulates are neither necessary nor sufficient criteria to identify a pathogen. The following key pieces of information are necessary to better understand the impact of this fungus on frog communities: better knowledge of the means and rate of transmission under field conditions, prevalence of infection among frog populations, as distinct from morbid individuals, and the effect of the fungus on frogs in the wild. It is crucial to determine whether there are strains of the fungus with differing pathogenicity to particular frog species and whether host-pathogen coevolution has occurred or is occurring. Recently developed diagnostic tools bring into reach the possibility of addressing these questions and thus developing appropriate strategies to manage frog communities that may be affected by this fungus. © 2005 Society for Conservation Biology.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:McCallum, HI (Professor Hamish McCallum)
ID Code:44371
Year Published:2005
Web of Science® Times Cited:50
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2007-05-17
Last Modified:2007-05-17

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