A Unified Research Strategy for Disease Management
As wildlife diseases increase globally, an understanding of host-pathogen relationships can elucidate avenues for management and improve conservation efficacy. Amphibians are among the most threatened groups of wildlife, and disease is a major factor in global amphibian declines.
As part of the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), USGS researchers undertook a collaborative, inter-disciplinary, consensus-building approach to identify knowledge gaps and research priorities that could enable science-based habitat management decisions to mitigate disease impacts. Nine important knowledge gaps were identified in a transparent process using tools from nominal group theory and influence diagrams, which led to prioritization of research in the areas of community and metapopulation dynamics, contaminants, habitat drivers of host-pathogen dynamics, and interactions with environment and host microbiome.
Grant, E.H., Adams, M.J., Fisher, R.N., Grear, D.A., Halstead, B.J., Hossack, B.R., Muths, E., Richgels, K.L., Russell, R.E., Smalling, K., Waddle, J.H., Walls, S.C., White, C.L., 2018, Identifying management-relevant research priorities for responding to disease-associated amphibian declines: Global Ecology and Conservation, p. e00441, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00441
The Amphibian Research Lab focuses on amphibian conservation issues. We are currently addressing issues such as invasive species, disease, land use change, and long-term monitoring design for amphibians in North America. We use a combination of comparative surveys and manipulative experiments to understand the factors affecting amphibian distribution and abundance.