Frog disease

Declines of frog populations

Frogs are known and celebrated for their disease resistance abilities. However, they are currently facing a global pandemic of their own. Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that causes the disease chytridiomycosis has decimated many frog populations worldwide. It is known to have affected frogs in eastern Australia and has likely caused local extinctions and ongoing declines of many species.

Not all species succumb to the disease although some are known to carry the fungus. Affected individuals literally suffocate to death with the fungus infecting the lungs and skin. It is unclear whether it is naturally occurring or a new disease. Similarly, it is still unclear why it has become more prevalent in recent decades. There is some consensus however that changes to environmental conditions, habitat loss, reduced population sizes, and pollutants have all contributed to environmental stress making individuals more susceptible to infection.

At a population level, protection and recovery from the disease are likely to hinge on limiting the spread and contamination to unaffected frog population areas, resistance developed through natural microbial associations, and increased areas and improved quality and recovery of habitats for frogs.

 

Common Species – Peron’s Tree Frog Litoria peronii Credit: Mark Cairns

 

Threatened Species – Growling Grass Frog Litoria raniformis Credit: Mark Cairns