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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 92:117-129 (2010)  -  DOI:

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

Application of the survey protocol for chytridiomycosis to Queensland, Australia

Lee F. Skerratt1,*, Keith R. McDonald2, Harry B. Hines3, Lee Berger1, Diana Mendez1, Andrea D. Phillott1, Scott D. Cashins1, Kris A. Murray4, Richard Speare1

1Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
2Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 975, Atherton, Queensland 4883, Australia
3Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 64, Bellbowrie, Queensland 4070, Australia
4The Ecology Centre, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

ABSTRACT: Spread of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes chytridiomycosis, has resulted in the extinction of frogs, but the distribution of Bd is incompletely known. We trialled the survey protocol for Bd by attempting to systematically map its distribution in Queensland, Australia. Bd was easily detected in known infected areas, such as the Wet Tropics and South East Queensland. It was not detected in bioregions adjacent to, but inland from or to the north of, infected regions: Einasleigh Uplands and Cape York adjacent to the infected Wet Tropics; and Brigalow Belt South adjacent to the infected South East Queensland bioregion. These regions where Bd was not detected have bordered infected regions for between 15 yr (in northern Queensland) and 30 yr (in southern Queensland), and so they define the geographical limits of Bd with regard to the long-term environmental conditions in Queensland. The Gulf Plains, a bioregion distant from infected bioregions, was also negative. Bd was confined to rainforest and bordering habitats, such as wet eucalypt forests. Infections were largely confined to permanent water-associated species, consistent with this being an important cause of this group having the greatest declines. Our data supports biogeographic climatic models that show much of inland and northern Australia to be too hot and dry to support Bd. As there is limited opportunity for Bd to spread further in Queensland, the priority for management is reducing the impact of Bd in affected populations and assisting frogs to disperse into their former distributions. Given that the survey protocol has been applied successfully in Australia it may be useful for mapping the distribution of Bd in other parts of the world.

KEY WORDS: Chytridiomycosis · Amphibian · Threatening process · Spread · Management · Disease

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Cite this article as: Skerratt LF, McDonald KR, Hines HB, Berger L and others (2010) Application of the survey protocol for chytridiomycosis to Queensland, Australia. Dis Aquat Org 92:117-129.

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