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Identifying species conservation strategies to reduce disease-associated declines

October 19, 2017

Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are a salient threat to many animal taxa, causing local and global extinctions, altering communities and ecosystem function. The EID chytridiomycosis is a prominent driver of amphibian declines, which is caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). To guide conservation policy, we developed a predictive decision-analytic model that combines empirical knowledge of host-pathogen metapopulation dynamics with expert judgment regarding effects of management actions, to select from potential conservation strategies. We apply our approach to a boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) and Bd system, identifying optimal strategies that balance tradeoffs in maximizing toad population persistence and landscape-level distribution, while considering costs. The most robust strategy is expected to reduce the decline of toad breeding sites from 53% to 21% over 50 years. Our findings are incorporated into management policy to guide conservation planning. Our online modeling application provides a template for managers of other systems challenged by EIDs.

Publication Year 2018
Title Identifying species conservation strategies to reduce disease-associated declines
DOI 10.1111/conl.12393
Authors Brian D. Gerber, Sarah J. Converse, Erin L. Muths, Harry J. Crockett, Brittany A. Mosher, Larissa L. Bailey
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Letters
Index ID 70192073
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle