Amphibian declines, disease ecology, biodiversity are highlighted at conference

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds ecology research in many areas, ranging from ecological ethics to tracking diseases responsible for amphibian declines, from human-landscape interactions to the ecological effects of Gulf Coast hurricanes, and biodiversity's importance to human and ecosystem health.

Scientists are presenting results of this research at the annual Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Memphis, Tenn, Aug. 6-11, 2006,

Ecological research results supported by NSF are highlighted below. All research results are embargoed until the time of their presentation.

Amphibian Declines: Rainfall and bait shops affect disease transmission

Disease plays an important role in amphibian declines, biologists believe.The interactions between amphibian disease hosts and pathogens are influenced by complex characteristics of the host, the pathogen, and the environment. Ranaviruses are especially associated with epidemics of amphibian disease.

Scientists James Collins, NSF assistant director for biological sciences (on leave from Arizona State University), and Amy Greer of Arizona State looked at ranavirus infection in a salamander species that lives in ponds on the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona. They found that variation in infection prevalence, and subsequent salamander deaths, are likely related to differences in water availability.During wet periods like those in 2005, ponds flooded for an entire growing season, which decreased disease transmission. In 2004, a dry year, infection rates and deaths were much higher.

Tues., Aug. 8, 3:40 p.m., L-4, Lobby Level.

In a related talk, Collins and Angela Picco of Arizona State University will discuss researching the movement of a ranavirus through the tiger salamander bait trade in Arizona. They found that a surprising 85 percent of bait shops carried ranavirus-infected animals.

Mon., Aug. 7, 10:10 a.m.

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

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