Amphibian declines: promising directions in understanding the role of disease
The decline of amphibian populations worldwide is a recognized phenomenon. A variety of important causes have been linked to the declines but perhaps the most renowned cause, in terms of popular press exposure, funding dispersal and papers published, is disease. In particular, chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a lethal emerging infectious disease that has had profound effects in some amphibian species, but occurs without catastrophic effects in others (Fisher, Garner & Walker, 2009b). Bd affects species differentially. In many cases it is the major threat to animals already stressed by other critical challenges, such as habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species and climate change. In addition to its impact on amphibian populations, the spread and presence of Bd is likely to impact human activities via effects on the pet, bait and food trade (Schloegel et al., 2009, 2010).