Researchers discover the frogs thriving in drier climates yet still infected with chytrid fungus
Researchers at Australia's James Cook University have written in a report published in Conservation Biology that the Armoured Mist Frog (Litoria lorica), thought totally wiped out by Chytridiomycosis until a population was found in 2008, has been able to live with the disease by moving away from its traditional wet habitat to a drier environment. Previously, it was thought that the disease wiped out seven frog species known to live in high elevations in the Wet Tropics of Australia, until these frogs were found three years ago.
We have found that this surviving group of Armoured Mist frogs and another species, the waterfall frog, are not only infected with the disease but they are thriving, said Dr. Robert Puschendorf, co-author of the study who was a JCU Ph.D candidate when he made the frog discovery in 2008.
Dr. Puschendorf believes that because the frogs were not in the habitat in which they were known to live, the wet, cooler rainforests of the tropics, they were able to survive and even thrive, even though they were infected with the disease.
The frogs were discovered in a drier area with less rainfall near the rainforest, and the researchers believe that the dry climate, coupled with less canopy cover and warmed rocks for the frogs to perch on, slowed the growth of Chytridiomycosis.
In addition to Dr. Puschendorf, the other authors of the paper are Professor Alford and Dr. Jeremy Vanderwal from JCU's School of Marine and Tropical Biology, Dr. Conrad Hoskin, JCU School of Marine and Tropical Biology and ANU's Research School of Biology, Dr. Scott Cashins and Dr. Lee Skerratt from JCU's School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences; and Keith McDonald from Queensland Parks and Wildlife.
References: James Cook University Australia