Frog fightback starts now

Frog populations begin to recover from fungal disease

source Wendy Zukerman
New Scientist vol 208 no 2790, 11 December 2010 p14

Researchers in Australia and the US have found that some frog populations, which had dropped due to Chytrid fungal infections, have started to recover. The infections affected a range of species, which suffered major population falls from 1990 to 1998. Maichael Mahony from Newcastle University, New South Wales, has studied frogs along Australia's Great Dividing Range, and has found that barred river frogs, tusked frogs, and many species of tree frogs have returned. Meanwhile, tree frogs are returning to Queensland, according to Ross Alford of James Cook University, Queensland.

Meanwhile, in the US, University of California's Roland Knapp has found that mountain yellow-legged frogs arecoming back. He and Mahony have discovered that frogs are co-existing with low levels of chytrid. The fungus could have weakened, and the frogs may have evolved to resist it. Knapp has found that recovered populations of frogs survuive exposure to infection better than frogs not previously exposed. This finding is echoed by results from Vanderbildt University, Nashville, where Louise and Alford Rollins Smith found higher levels of anti-fungal peptides on skins of frogs from recovered populations. In Europe, Ursina Tobler from Zurich University has shown that some tadpoles can survive the infection.