DAO 92:193-199 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02212

Contribution to the DAO Special 'Chytridiomycosis: An emerging disease'

Distribution and risk factors for spread of amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Australia

Matthew D. Pauza1, Michael M. Driessen1,*, Lee F. Skerratt2

1Biodiversity Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, PO Box 44, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
2Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, Australia
*‑Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Chytridiomycosis is an emerging infectious disease caused by the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and is the cause of the decline and extinction of amphibian species throughout the world. We surveyed the distribution of Bd within and around the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), a 1.38 million ha area of significant fauna conservation value, which provides the majority of habitat for Tasmania’s 3 endemic frog species (Litoria burrowsae, Bryobatrachus nimbus and Crinia tasmaniensis). Bd was detected at only 1 (3%) of the 33 sites surveyed within the TWWHA and at 15 (52%) of the 29 sites surveyed surrounding the TWWHA. The relatively low incidence of the disease within the TWWHA suggests that the majority of the TWWHA is currently free of the pathogen despite the fact that the region provides what appears to be optimal conditions for the persistence of Bd. For all survey sites within and around the TWWHA, the presence of Bd was strongly associated with the presence of gravel roads, forest and <1000 m altitude—factors that in this study were associated with human-disturbed landscapes around the TWWHA. Conversely, the presence of walking tracks was strongly associated with the absence of Bd, suggesting an association of absence with relatively remote locations. The wide distribution of Bd in areas of Tasmania with high levels of human disturbance and its very limited occurrence in remote wilderness areas suggests that anthropogenic activities may facilitate the dissemination of the pathogen on a landscape scale in Tasmania. Because the majority of the TWWHA is not readily accessible and appears to be largely free of Bd, and because Tasmanian frogs reproduce in ponds rather than streams, it may be feasible to control the spread of the disease in the TWWHA.


KEY WORDS: Chytridiomycosis · Emerging disease · Frogs · Litoria · Crinia


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Cite this article as: Pauza MD, Driessen MM, Skerratt LF (2010) Distribution and risk factors for spread of amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Australia. Dis Aquat Org 92:193-199. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02212

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