Assessing spatial patterns of disease risk to biodiversity: Implications for the management of the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Murray, Kris A., Retallick, Richard W. R., Puschendorf, Robert, Skerratt, Lee F., Rosauer, Dan, McCallum, Hamish I., Berger, Lee, Speare, Rick and VanDerWal, Jeremy (2011) Assessing spatial patterns of disease risk to biodiversity: Implications for the management of the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Journal of Applied Ecology, 48 1: 163-173. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01890.x


Author Murray, Kris A.
Retallick, Richard W. R.
Puschendorf, Robert
Skerratt, Lee F.
Rosauer, Dan
McCallum, Hamish I.
Berger, Lee
Speare, Rick
VanDerWal, Jeremy
Title Assessing spatial patterns of disease risk to biodiversity: Implications for the management of the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
Formatted title
Assessing spatial patterns of disease risk to biodiversity: Implications for the management of the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
Journal name Journal of Applied Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-8901
1365-2664
Publication date 2011-02
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01890.x
Volume 48
Issue 1
Start page 163
End page 173
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
1. Emerging infectious diseases can have serious consequences for wildlife populations, ecosystem structure and biodiversity. Predicting the spatial patterns and potential impacts of diseases in free-ranging wildlife are therefore important for planning, prioritizing and implementing research and management actions.
2. We developed spatial models of environmental suitability (ES) for infection with the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes the most significant disease affecting vertebrate biodiversity on record, amphibian chytridiomycosis. We applied relatively newly developed methods for modelling ES (Maxent) to the first comprehensive, continent-wide data base (comprising >10000 observations) on the occurrence of infection with this pathogen and employed novel methodologies to deal with common but rarely addressed sources of model uncertainty.
3. We used ES to (i) predict the minimum potential geographic distribution of infection with B. dendrobatidis in Australia and (ii) test the hypothesis that ES for B. dendrobatidis should help explain patterns of amphibian decline given its theoretical and empirical link with organism abundance (intensity of infection), a known determinant of disease severity.
4. We show that (i) infection with B. dendrobatidis has probably reached its broad geographic limits in Australia under current climatic conditions but that smaller areas of invasion potential remain, (ii) areas of high predicted ES for B. dendrobatidis accurately reflect areas where population declines due to severe chytridiomycosis have occurred and (iii) that a host-specific metric of ES for B. dendrobatidis (ES for Bdspecies) is the strongest predictor of decline in Australian amphibians at a continental scale yet discovered.
5. Synthesis and applications. Our results provide quantitative information that helps to explain both the spatial distribution and potential effects (risk) of amphibian infection with B. dendrobatidis at the population level. Given scarce conservation resources, our results can be used immediately in Australia and our methods applied elsewhere to prioritize species, regions and actions in the struggle to limit further biodiversity loss.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2010 British Ecological Society.
Keyword Amphibian declines
Bioclimatic modelling
Chytrid fungus
Chytridiomycosis
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article first published online: 17 DEC 2010.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
 
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Created: Sun, 13 Feb 2011, 00:02:58 EST