Interventions for Reducing Extinction Risk in Chytridiomycosis-Threatened Amphibians

Author(s): BEN C. SCHEELE, DAVID A. HUNTER, LAURA F. GROGAN, LEE BERGER, JON E. KOLBY, MICHAEL S. MCFADDEN, GERRY MARANTELLI, LEE F. SKERRATT AND DON A. DRISCOL

Publication: Conservation Biology

Publication Date: 2014

Abstract: Wildlife diseases pose an increasing threat to biodiversity and are a major management challenge. A striking example of this threat is the emergence of chytridiomycosis. Despite diagnosis of chytridiomycosis as an important driver of global amphibian declines 15 years ago, researchers have yet to devise effective largescalemanagement responses other than biosecurity measures to mitigate disease spread and the establishment of disease-free captive assurance colonies prior to or during disease outbreaks. We examined the development of management actions that can be implemented after an epidemic in surviving populations. We developed a conceptual framework with clear interventions to guide experimental management and applied research so that further extinctions of amphibian species threatened by chytridiomycosis might be prevented. Within our framework, there are 2 management approaches: reducing Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (the fungus that causes chytridiomycosis) in the environment or on amphibians and increasing the capacity of populations to persist despite increased mortality from disease. The latter approach emphasizes that mitigation does not necessarily need to focus on reducing disease-associatedmortality.We propose promising management actions that can be implemented and tested based on current knowledge and that include habitat manipulation, antifungal treatments, animal translocation, bioaugmentation, head starting, and selection for resistance. Case studies where these strategies are being implemented will demonstrate their potential to save critically endangered species.

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