Assessing Amphibian Disease Risk in the Northeast

Science Center Objects

The Challenge: Disease in amphibian populations can have a range of effects, from devastating declines following introduction of a novel pathogen to recurring breakout events on a landscape. Elucidating mechanisms underlying the effects of diseases on amphibian populations is crucial to help managers make appropriate decisions to achieve management goals for amphibians.

The Science: We have sampled for two diseases, Ranavirus and frog chytrid (Batrochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd) on multiple refuges in the Northeast in conjunction with an analysis of soil contaminants to determine if local site factors can predict likelihood of disease outbreaks. An emerging fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), has caused mass mortality events and severe population declines in European salamanders via introduction into wild populations from the pet trade. Introduction of this pathogen to North America could be devastating, not only to local populations but also to global salamander biodiversity. ARMI is working collaboratively nationwide to determine the presence of Bsal in North American salamander populations in locations with increased risk of exposure to the Bsal pathogen.

The Future: Sampling for diseases such as Ranavirus and Bd will continue in the region, and Structured Decision Making workshops are planned to determine if refuges can collaboratively pursue amphibian managment goals, including risk of disease. Sampling will continue to determine if Bsal is present in wild amphibian populations, and ARMI is involved in multiple working groups to determine the risk of the pathogen to native populations and develop proactive management strategies to minimize effects if Bsal is introduced to North America.