Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Environmental concerns increasing infectious disease in amphibians, other animals

Date:
July 18, 2012
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
Climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species are all involved in the global crisis of amphibian declines and extinctions, researchers suggest in a new analysis, but increasingly these forces are causing actual mortality in the form of infectious disease.

Infection with trematodes in this leopard frog caused extra legs to grow.
Credit: Pieter Johnson, courtesy of Oregon State University

Climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species are all involved in the global crisis of amphibian declines and extinctions, researchers suggest in a new analysis, but increasingly these forces are causing actual mortality in the form of infectious disease.

Amphibians are now, and always have been hosts for a wide range of infectious organisms, including viruses, bacteria and fungi, scientists said in a review published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

But in recent decades, disease seems to have taken a more prominent role in causing mortality. Because of multiple stresses, many induced by humans, amphibians now succumb to diseases they may historically have been better able to resist or tolerate.

"There's more and more evidence of the role of disease in the biodiversity crisis, in both amphibians and other types of animals," said Andrew Blaustein, a distinguished professor of zoology at Oregon State University and author of the recent analysis.

"It's normal for animals to deal with infectious organisms, often many of them simultaneously," he said. "But in the face of pollution, a reduced immune response, climate change, evolving pathogens and many other stresses in such a short period of time, many species now simply can't survive."

The current extinction rates of amphibians -- which existed even before dinosaurs roamed Earth -- may be more than 200 times the background rate of extinction, the scientists note in this report. From an evolutionary perspective, amphibians that survived for hundreds of millions of years may be undergoing a major extinction event.

Because they have both terrestrial and aquatic life stages amphibians are exposed to various environmental forces more than some other animals, scientists say, and a higher percentage of them are threatened with extinction than are birds or mammals. However, similar concerns may become apparent in many animal species, including humans, as environmental changes and stresses grow, they said.

Among the observations in this report:

• Infectious disease around the world is increasing at an unprecedented rate.

• Natural stresses such as competition and predation have been joined by human-induced stresses, ranging from pollution to global warming.

• These forces can reduce immune competence in amphibians, even as climate change, invasive species and other factors increase pathogen spread, persistence, growth and mortality.

• Some amphibians deal with stress by hormonal changes such as increased production of glucocorticoids, but on a sustained basis, that approach can further suppress their immune system.

• Warmer winters and night-time temperatures may reduce the cycle of pathogen die-offs that would naturally occur in colder regions.

These forces are complex, the researchers noted. The effects of climate change on amphibian disease, for instance, my cause some pathogens to increase in prevalence and severity, while others decline.

Understanding the driving forces behind these changes, the scientists said, will be important not only to address amphibian declines but also to deal with emerging infections in many other plants and animals, including humans. Such impacts can affect wildlife conservation, economic growth and human health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew R. Blaustein, Stephanie S. Gervasi, Pieter T. J. Johnson, Jason T. Hoverman, Lisa K. Belden, Paul W. Bradley, and Gisselle Y. Xie. Ecophysiology meets conservation: understanding the role of disease in amphibian population declines. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, June 19, 2012 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0011 1471-2970

Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Environmental concerns increasing infectious disease in amphibians, other animals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718143607.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2012, July 18). Environmental concerns increasing infectious disease in amphibians, other animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718143607.htm
Oregon State University. "Environmental concerns increasing infectious disease in amphibians, other animals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718143607.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins