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Disease


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.

Resources

National Wildlife Health Center - ARMI

ARMI Products on Disease

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This is an ARMI Product. Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans and the risk of a second amphibian pandemic
Authors: Yap Tiffany A, Nguyen Natalie T, Serr Megan, Shepack Alexander, Vredenburg Vance T | Date: 2017-11-16 | Outlet: EcoHealth doi.org/10.1007/s10393-017-1278-1
Amphibians are experiencing devastating population declines globally. A major driver is chytridiomycosis, an emerging infectious disease caused by the fungal pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). Bd was described in 1999 and has been linked with declines since the 1970s, while Bsal is a more recently discovered pathogen that was described in 2013. It is hypothesized that Bsal originated in Asia and spread via international trade to Europe, where it has been linked to salamander die-offs. Trade in live amphibians thus represents a significant threat to global biodiversity in amphibians. We review the current state of knowledge regarding Bsal and describe the risk of Bsal spread. We discuss regional responses to Bsal and barriers that impede a rapid, coordinated global effort. The discovery of a second deadly emerging chytrid fungal pathogen in amphibians poses an opportunity for scientists, conservationists, and governments to improve global biosecurity and further protect humans and wildlife from a growing number of emerging infectious diseases.

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BA Mosher  
This is an ARMI Product. Design- and model-based recommendations for detecting and quantifying an amphibian pathogen in environmental samples
Authors: Mosher BA, Huyvaert KP, Chestnut T, Kerby JL, Madison JD, Bailey LL | Date: 2017-12 | Outlet: Ecology and Evolution | Format: .PDF
Accurate pathogen detection is essential for developing management strategies to address emerging infectious diseases, an increasingly prominent threat to wildlife. Sampling for free-living pathogens outside of their hosts has benefits for inference and study efficiency, but is still uncommon. We used a laboratory experiment to evaluate the influences of pathogen concentration, water type, and qPCR inhibitors on the detection and quantification of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) using water filtration. We compared results pre- and post-inhibitor removal, and assessed inferential differences when single versus multiple samples were collected across space or time. We found that qPCR inhibition influenced both Bd detection and quantification in natural water samples, resulting in biased inferences about Bd occurrence and abundance. Biases in occurrence could be mitigated by collecting multiple samples in space or time, but biases in Bd quantification were persistent. Differences in Bd concentration resulted in variation in detection probability, indicating that occupancy modeling could be used to explore factors influencing heterogeneity in Bd abundance among samples, sites, or over time. Our work will influence the design of studies involving amphibian disease dynamics and studies utilizing environmental DNA (eDNA) to understand species distributions.

This is an ARMI Product. A pesticide paradox: Fungicides indirectly increase fungal infections
Authors: Rohr JR, Brown J, Battaglin WA, McMahon TA, Relyea RA | Date: 2017-07-28 | Outlet: Ecological Applications, in press DOI: 10.1002/eap.1607
Abstract. There are many examples where the use of chemicals have had profound unanticipated consequences, such as fertilizers reducing crop yields (paradox of enrichment) and insecticides increasing insect pests (by reducing natural biocontrol). Recently, the application of agrochemicals, such as agricultural disinfectants and fungicides, has been explored as an approach to curb the pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which is associated with worldwide amphibian declines. However, the long-term, net effects of early-life exposure to these chemicals on amphibian disease risk have not been thoroughly investigated. Using a combination of laboratory experiments and analysis of data from the literature, we explored the effects of fungicide exposure on Bd infections in two frog species. Extremely low concentrations of the fungicides azoxystrobin, chlorothalonil, and mancozeb were directly toxic to Bd in culture. However, estimated environmental concentrations of the fungicides did not reduce Bd on Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) tadpoles exposed simultaneously to any of these fungicides and Bd, and fungicide exposure actually increased Bd-induced mortality. Additionally, exposure to any of these fungicides as tadpoles resulted in higher Bd abundance and greater Bd-induced mortality when challenged with Bd post-metamorphosis, an average of 71 days after their last fungicide exposure. Analysis of data from the literature revealed that previous exposure to the fungicide itraconazole, which is commonly used to clear Bd infections, made the critically endangered booroolong frog (Litoria booroolongensis) more susceptible to Bd. Finally, a field survey revealed that Bd prevalence was positively associated with concentrations of fungicides in ponds. Although fungicides show promise for controlling Bd, these results suggest that, if fungicides do not completely eradicate Bd or if Bd re-colonizes, exposure to fungicides has the potential to do more harm than good. To ensure that fungicide applications have the intended consequence of curbing amphibian declines, researchers must identify which fungicides do not compromise the pathogen resistance mechanisms of amphibians.


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