ARMI » Topics » 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.


National Wildlife Health Center - ARMI

ARMI Papers & Reports on Disease

* USGS neither sponsors nor endorses non-USGS web sites; per requirement "3.4.1 Prohibition of Commercial Endorsement."
* PDF documents require Adobe Reader or Google Chrome Browser for viewing.

Author: DiRenzo GV | Outlet: Biological Conservation
One of the leading causes of global amphibian decline is emerging infectious disease. We summarize the disease ecology of four major emerging amphibian infectious agents: chytrids, ranaviruses, trematodes, and Perkinsea. We focus on recently developed quantitative advances that build on well-established ecological theories and aid in studying epizootic and enzootic disease dynamics. For example, we identify ecological and evolutionary selective forces that determine disease outcomes and transmission pathways by borrowing ideas from population and community ecology theory. We outline three topics of general interest in disease ecology: (i) the relationship between biodiversity and disease risk, (ii) individual, species, or environmental transmission heterogeneity, and (iii) pathogen coinfections. Finally, we identify specific knowledge gaps impeding the success of conservation-related decisions for disease mitigation and the future of amphibian conservation success.

E Muths  
This is an ARMI Product. A continuum of risk tolerance: Reintroductions of toads in the Rockies
Authors: Muths E, Wright FB, Bailey LL | Outlet: book - Susan Walls | Format: .PDF
Success in reintroducing amphibians may be more context- than detail-dependent such that a slavish adherence to protocol may not foster success better than a more intuitive approach. We provide two reintroduction case studies for boreal toads where the approach was different, but where both resulted in gains in understanding, including first estimates of survival for boreal toads from a reintroduced population. Given the effects of disease on amphibian populations and the potential for disease to remain in a system after extirpation, there is a need to restructure reintroduction guidelines. Maintaining populations on the landscape through reintroductions provides an opportunity for the development of resistance and may facilitate species persistence into the future. But to be effective, care in understanding the context of the reintroduction and a re-envisioning of guidelines is necessary.

This is an ARMI Product. Effect of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) on apparent survival of frogs and toads in the western USA
Authors: Russell RE, Halstead BJ, Mosher BA, Muths E, Adams MJ, Grant EHC, Fisher RN, Kleeman PM, Backlin AR, Pearl CA, Honeycut RK, Hossack BR | Outlet: Biological Conservation
Despite increasing interest in determining the population-level effects of emerging infectious diseases on wildlife, estimating effects of disease on survival rates remains difficult. Even for a well-studied disease such as amphibian chytridiomycosis (caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis [Bd]), there are few estimates of how survival of wild hosts is affected. We applied hierarchical models to long-term capture-mark-recapture data (mean = 10.6 yrs, range = 6?15 yrs) from >5500 uniquely-marked individuals to estimate the effect of Bd on apparent survival of four threatened or endangered ranid frog species (Rana draytonii, R. muscosa, R. pretiosa, R. sierrae) at 14 study sites in California and Oregon (USA) and one bufonid toad (Anaxyrus boreas) at two study sites in Wyoming and Montana. Our models indicated that the presence of Bd on an individual reduced apparent survival of ranid frogs by ~6?15% depending on species and sex. The estimated difference between toads with and without Bd was 19% for the Montana population and 55% for the Wyoming population; however, the 95% Credible Interval of these estimates included zero. These results provide evidence for negative effects of Bd on survival in wild populations even in the absence of obvious die-offs. Determining what factors influence the magnitude of the effects of Bd on wildlife populations is an important next step toward identifying management actions. These estimates of Bd effects are important for understanding the extent and severity of disease, whether disease effects have changed over time, and for informing management actions.