Dynamics and genetics of a disease-driven species decline to near extinction: lessons for conservation

M. A. Hudson, R. P. Young, J. D'Urban Jackson, P. Orozco-Terwengel, L. Martin, A. James, M. Sulton, G. Garcia, R. A. Griffiths, R. Thomas, C. Magin, M. W. Bruford, A. A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Amphibian chytridiomycosis has caused precipitous declines in hundreds of species worldwide. By tracking mountain chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) populations before, during and after the emergence of chytridiomycosis, we quantified the real-time species level impacts of this disease. We report a range-wide species decline amongst the fastest ever recorded, with a loss of over 85% of the population in fewer than 18 months on Dominica and near extinction on Montserrat. Genetic diversity declined in the wild, but emergency measures to establish a captive assurance population captured a representative sample of genetic diversity from Montserrat. If the Convention on Biological Diversity's targets are to be met, it is important to evaluate the reasons why they appear consistently unattainable. The emergence of chytridiomycosis in the mountain chicken was predictable, but the decline could not be prevented. There is an urgent need to build mitigation capacity where amphibians are at risk from chytridiomycosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30772
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2016

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