Dynamics of Chytridiomycosis during the Breeding Season in an Australian Alpine Amphibian

Laura A. Brannelly, David A. Hunter, Daniel Lenger, Ben C. Scheele, Lee F. Skerratt, Lee Berger

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding disease dynamics during the breeding season of declining amphibian species will improve our understanding of how remnant populations persist with endemic infection, and will assist the development of management techniques to protect diseasethreatened species from extinction.We monitored the endangered Litoria verreauxii alpina (alpine treefrog) during the breeding season through capture-mark-recapture (CMR) studies in which we investigated the dynamics of chytridiomycosis in relation to population size in two populations. We found that infection prevalence and intensity increased throughout the breeding season in both populations, but infection prevalence and intensity was higher (3.49 and 2.02 times higher prevalence and intensity, respectively) at the site that had a 90- fold higher population density. This suggests that Bd transmission is density-dependent. Weekly survival probability was related to disease state, with heavily infected animals having the lowest survival. There was low recovery from infection, especially when animals were heavily infected with Bd. Sympatric amphibian species are likely to be reservoir hosts for the disease and can play an important role in the disease ecology of Bd. Although we found 0% prevalence in crayfish (Cherax destructor), we found that a sympatric amphibian (Crinia signifera) maintained 100% infection prevalence at a high intensity throughout the season. Our results demonstrate the importance of including infection intensity into CMR disease analysis in order to fully understand the implications of disease on the amphibian community. We recommend a combined management approach to promote lower population densities and ensure consistent progeny survival. The most effective management strategy to safeguard the persistence of this susceptible species might be to increase habitat area while maintaining a similar sized suitable breeding zone and to increase water flow and area to reduce drought.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0143629
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


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