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Title: Sleuthing out a silent scourge for amphibians

Author: Parks, Noreen; Olson, Deanna (Dede);

Date: 2013

Source: Science Findings 156. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.

Publication Series: Science Findings

Description: The amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), causes the infectious disease chytridiomycosis, which has triggered massive die-offs and extinctions of amphibians around the world. The disease, identified in 1998, is a significant contributor to the global amphibian biodiversity crisis, and no clear means of arresting its spread has been found.

Conservationists, scientists, and wildlife managers are grappling with understanding the extent and severity of chytrid disease and its ramifications on species and ecosystems. Enlisting collaborators around the world, Dede Olson, with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, and her colleagues initiated a global surveillance project in the form of a website-based database, displayed on publicly accessible maps that show the incidence of Bd and the affected species.

The first comprehensive report on the collected data revealed that patterns of infection differed among different species and sites. However, it was evident that biodiversity within amphibian communities and climate factors play significant roles in Bd occurrence. These and other findings have inspired a barrage of new studies and the project website has grown into an international clearinghouse for science and management strategies pertaining to imperiled amphibians. The project is also fostering a novel model for networking and partnerships to produce and share results more rapidly and on broader scales, which could ultimately benefit many different fields.

Keywords: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd, chytridiomycosis, mapping project, amphibians, Dede Olson.

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Parks, Noreen. 2013. Sleuthing out a silent scourge for amphibians. Science Findings 156. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


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