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Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative

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Cave Bd sampling
Left to Right: Tabby Cavendish (Great Smoky Mountains NP), Brian Gregory (USGS), and Jamie Barichivich (ARMI) swabbing salamanders for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in Rockhouse Cave, Wheeler NWR, Alabama. Photo by: Alan Cressler.

ARMI conducts original research on various amphibian diseases in the lab and field. Our research has included estimating the impacts of diseases on the growth of populations, developing and testing potential treatments, affects of stressors on susceptibility to disease, how diseases are transmitted in the wild, and how to model disease distributions and spread.

ARMI disease research is conducted throughout the country, but ARMI pathologist Dr. David Green is based at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and coordinates the health screenings and investigations of amphibian mortalities (e.g., identification, pathology) in addition to collaborating on many disease research projects.

Amphibians at our long-term monitoring sites are periodically screened for diseases and we investigate mass mortality events.


National Wildlife Health Center - ARMI

ARMI Products on Disease

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This is an ARMI Product. Inferential biases linked to unobservable states in complex occupancy models
Authors: Mosher BA, Bailey LL, Hubbard BA, Huyvaert KP | Date: 2017-02 | Outlet: Ecography DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02849 | Format: .PDF
Our work is motivated by the impacts of the emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis, a disease of amphibians that associated with declines of many species worldwide. Using this host-pathogen system as a general example, we first illustrate how misleading inferences can result from failing to incorporate pathogen dynamics into the modeling process, especially when the pathogen is difficult or impossible to survey in the absence of a host species. We found that traditional modeling techniques can underestimate the effect of a pathogen on host species occurrence and dynamics when the pathogen can only be detected in the host, and pathogen information is treated as a covariate. We propose a dynamic multistate modeling approach that is flexible enough to account for the detection structures that may be present in complex multistate systems, especially when the sampling design is limited by a species’ natural history or sampling technology.

[I]Rana sierrae[/I] at a pond in Yosemite National Park.
S Dykman  
This is an ARMI Product. Large-scale recovery of an endangered amphibian despite ongoing exposure to multiple stressors
Authors: Knapp RA, Fellers GM, Kleeman PM, Miller DAW, Vredenburg VT, Rosenblum EB, Briggs CJ | Date: 2016-10-03 | Outlet: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1600983113 | Format: .PDF
Amphibians are one of the most threatened animal groups, with 32% of species at risk of extinction. Given this, is the disappearance of a large fraction of the Earth’s amphibians inevitable, or are some declining species more resilient than is generally assumed? We address this question in a species that is emblematic of many declining amphibians, the endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae). Based on >7,000 frog surveys conducted across Yosemite National Park over a 20-year period, we show that after decades of decline and despite ongoing exposure to multiple stressors including introduced fish, the recently emerged disease chytridiomycosis, and pesticides, R. sierrae abundance increased 7-fold during the study and at a rate of 11% per year. These increases occurred in hundreds of populations throughout Yosemite, providing a rare example of amphibian recovery at an ecologically relevant spatial scale. Results from a laboratory experiment indicate that these increases may be due in part to reduced frog susceptibility to chytridiomycosis. The disappearance of nonnative fish from numerous water bodies following cessation of stocking also contributed to the recovery. The large-scale increases in R. sierrae abundance we document suggest that when habitats are relatively intact and stressors are reduced in their importance by active management or species’ adaptive responses declines of some amphibian may be partially reversible, at least at a regional scale. Other studies conducted over similarly large temporal and spatial scales are critically needed to provide insight and generality about the reversibility of amphibian declines at a global scale.

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T Garner  
This is an ARMI Product. Mitigating amphibian chytridiomycosis in nature
Authors: Garner TWJ, Schmidt BR, Martel A, Pasmans F, Muths E, Cunningham AC, Weldon C, Fisher MC, Bosch J | Date: 2016-10 | Outlet: Phil. Trans.R.Soc.B 371: 20160207. | Format: .PDF
Amphibians across the planet face the threat of population decline and extirpation caused by the disease chytridiomycosis. Despite consensus that the fungal pathogens responsible for the disease are conservation issues, strategies to mitigate their impacts in the natural world are, at best, nascent. Reducing risk associated with the movement of amphibians, non-amphibian vectors and other sources of infection remains the first line of defence and a primary objective when mitigating the threat of disease in wildlife. Amphibian-associated chytridiomycete fungi and chytridiomycosis are already widespread, though, and in this article we discuss options for mitigating the threats once disease emergence has occurred in wild amphibian populations.

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