Survivorship in Wild Frogs Infected with Chytridiomycosis
Chytridiomycosis is an emerging infectious disease that has been implicated as the causative agent of many recent amphibian population declines and extinctions that have taken place in relatively pristine locations worldwide. While there exists a growing body of literature regarding the effect of the fungus on experimentally infected frogs, few studies have examined the effect of the fungus on apparently healthy wild frogs from nondeclining, infected populations. We examined the temporal pattern of chytrid infection in individually marked Stony Creek Frogs (Litoria wilcoxii) at a lowland site in southeast Queensland, Australia. We provide the first evidence that wild frogs are capable of both acquiring chytridiomycosis as adults, and also of clearing their infections entirely. Changes in disease status in individual frogs largely tracked changing climatic conditions, with infections tending to appear in cooler months and disappearing in warmer months. Though 27.2% of the adult frogs we sampled were infected at some point in the study, we found no evidence that chytridiomycosis was negatively affecting adult survivorship, suggesting either: (1) chytrid-induced mortality in this population is generally restricted to metamorphs and juveniles; (2) this population was not exposed to conditions which favored lethal disease outbreaks; or (3) this population has evolved sufficient resistance to the disease to persist relatively unaffected.