Chytridiomycosis is a disease that has led to the decline of at least 501 amphibian species over the past half-century, including 90 presumed extinctions. The disease is caused by a fungus, and it affects amphibians all over the world, including the Dixie Valley Toad, which resides right here in Nevada.
The Panamanian Golden Frog is one such amphibian species that was presumed extinct. In recent years, scientists have been finding Panamanian Golden Frogs that appear to be resilient to the chytrid fungus.
“We know now that some species are more or less susceptible to the infection. Some of them die from the infection, and others are pretty much okay with it,” says Dr. Angie Estrada, a biologist with the Panamanian Golden Frog Conservation Strategy.
“Our lab at University of Nevada, Reno is focusing on understanding some of the factors that are allowing some of these species to survive. We are interested in understanding how some species have some sort of natural defense against this particular fungus,” says Dr. Jamie Voyles, a UNR biologist studying the Panamanian Golden Frog and its resilience to the chytrid fungus.
“My hope is that we are able to determine what precise defenses these frogs have against the fungus. If we are able to target exactly what that defense is, then we can make better, more scientifically-informed recommendations for conservation programs.”