© 2015 by Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group

Alpine tree frog (Litoria verreauxii alpina)

 

Amphibian chytridiomycosis

 

Chytridiomycosis is an infectious skin disease of frogs caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).

 

This fungal pathogen has been implicated in the decline or extinction of 202 amphibian species; approximately half those experiencing rapid declines globally. Frog populations around the world are continuing to decline, and some that survived initially fail to recover to their previous densities.

 

Chytridiomycosis is unprecedented in its ability to drive populations to extinction, and many species are now only secure in captivity. Additionally, the disease greatly increases the risk of extinction from other threatening processes such as habitat loss, climate change, toxins, introduced pests, and over-exploitation. Abating this crisis is one of the most urgent issues in conservation today.

Eradication of the fungus is impossible, and intensive control through targeted management strategies is essential to help small populations recover. Management techniques are currently limited to preventing spread of the disease, or removing frogs from the wild. While the value of captive breeding and release programs is controversial, they are currently the only effective tool for preventing extinction in declining species. Unfortunately, despite successful captive rearing, the disease is still present in the environment, and frogs still die when they are reintroduced to the wild.

Visit our website for The Frog Research Team!

We have research opportunities available!

Funding

  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP180101415: "A novel modelling approach for understanding wildlife disease dynamics"

  • New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage Saving our Species Key Threatening Process Project: "The great leap forward; investigating recovery and resistance to amphibian chytrid fungus in an endangered frog from the World Heritage Rainforests of NSW"

  • Griffith University School of Environment and Science Research Support Scheme 2018: "Amphibians of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests: Distribution, habitat use, conservation status and potential threats"

  • Environmental Futures Research Institute Strategic Leverage Fund 2018: "Investigation of immune gene expression in the amphibian fungal skin disease, chytridiomycosis" (Laura Grogan)

  • Early Career Researcher Travel Grant 2018 (Laura Grogan)

  • Griffith University 2019 International Workshop Award: "Generalising amphibian disease models across species and international boundaries"

  • Ecological Society of Australia Student Research Grant (Thais Sasso Lopes)

  • 2019 Griffith University New Researcher Grant Scheme: "A metabolomic investigation of the amphibian fungal skin disease, chytridiomycosis" (Laura Grogan)

Investigators

 

Prof. Hamish McCallum (Griffith University, QLD Australia)

Dr. David Newell (Southern Cross University, NSW Australia)

Prof. Cheryl Briggs (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)

A/Prof. A. Marm Kilpatrick (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)

Dr. Laura Grogan (Griffith University, QLD Australia)

Dr. Guy Castley (Griffith University, QLD Australia)

Mr. Harry Hines (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, DES, Queensland Government)

Mr. Michael McFadden (Taronga Conservation Society)

Ms. Thais Sasso Lopes (PhD candidate, Griffith University, QLD Australia)

Mr. Matthijs Hollanders (PhD candidate, Southern Cross University, NSW Australia)

Dr. Maria Puig Ribas (PhD candidate, Southern Cross University, NSW Australia)

Alpine tree frog showing loss of righting reflex due to severe chytridiomycosis

Great barred frog (Mixophyes fasciolatus)

Exciting research opportunities - for PhD, Honours & Special Research Projects!

PhD Project: "Understanding resistance and tolerance to chytrid fungal disease in amphibians to improve conservation"

Supervisors: Dr. David Newell (Forest Research Centre, Southern Cross University), Dr. Laura Grogan and Prof. Hamish McCallum (EFRI, Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group). For more detail about our team, please visit our Frog Research Team website

 

Project: Wildlife are in peril. Chytridiomycosis (caused by aquatic fungal agent Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is the most devastating disease threat to biodiversity ever recorded. It has caused the decline and extinction of hundreds of frog species around the world. This project investigates the population and infection dynamics of chytrid fungal disease in frogs. It aims to discover mechanisms by which frogs can either resist or tolerate chytrid infections, to help with population and species recovery. 

You will have the opportunity to make a direct conservation impact by working with endangered frog species of eastern Australia. You will be working with endangered Fleay’s barred frogs (Mixophyes fleayi) in the lab. You will also have the opportunity to undertake fieldwork and to develop modelling skills. 

Funding and Eligibility: The project is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant plus other grants. For more details, please see our Amphibian Chytridiomycosis page

Applicants will need to obtain a living allowance scholarship (AU$27,596 per annum) to undertake a PhD with us, via application for the competitive Southern Cross University Postgraduate Research Scholarship. To be eligible and competitive you need to have First Class Honours or equivalent. 

 

The application requires a written project proposal (to be discussed with potential supervisors in advance of the application). 

To apply: Submit your CV to Dr. David Newell (david.newell@scu.edu.au) by 23rd September, 2019 with the subject line “PhD application”.

PhD flyer.jpg

Honours Project: "Tadpoles as reservoirs of the lethal frog chytrid fungal disease"

Supervisors: Dr. Laura Grogan and Prof. Hamish McCallum (EFRI, Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group), Dr. David Newell (Forest Research Centre, Southern Cross University)

 

Project: The amphibian fungal skin disease, chytridiomycosis, has caused more declines and species extinctions around the world than any other disease ever recorded. Although tadpoles usually do not die from the disease, they can act as a source of infection for recently metamorphosed frogs.

This project will investigate the role of tadpoles as a reservoir host for the fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The project involves fieldwork and/or laboratory work with tadpoles and frogs of the endangered Fleay’s barred frog (Mixophyes fleayi) and sympatric species. We usually test for infection on tadpoles and frogs using sterile cotton-tipped skin swabs (for more details, see https://www.mccallum-disease-ecology.com/single-post/2018/09/06/First-frogs-of-the-season).

This project is part of more extensive research funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant and involves a team of researchers (including PhD candidates and post-docs) and a diverse network of collaborators. Please see our team website (Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group: www.mccallum-disease-ecology.com) for more information, or volunteer with us (https://www.facebook.com/groups/FrogWorkVolunteers/).

 

Start date: Trimesters 1, 2 or 3, 2019; Contact: l.grogan@griffith.edu.au

Honours Project: "Frogs - occupancy surveys,   modelling and SDMs"

Supervisors: Dr. Laura Grogan and Prof. Hamish McCallum (EFRI, Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group), Dr. David Newell (Forest Research Centre, Southern Cross University)

 

Project: The mountain rainforests around south-east QLD and north-east NSW are a local hotspot for amphibians, with > 40 frog species being found here. However, amphibians are in peril – they are the most endangered vertebrate class, suffering a multitude of threats including habitat loss, disease, pollution, climate change, and invasive species. Seven species of Australian frogs have become extinct since the 1970s due to disease alone, three of them in this region. Unfortunately, lack of funding has precluded effective monitoring of these populations since 2008.

This project aims to survey amphibian populations across this region to improve our understanding of the conservation status of these frog species, comparing current data with historical data. The collected data will be analysed via occupancy modelling and species distribution modelling.

The project will involve extensive fieldwork (primarily via stream transects) to a range of sites around the region, accompanied by commenced PhD candidate, Thais Sasso Lopes. This project is part of more extensive research funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant and involves a team of researchers (including PhD candidates and post-docs) and a diverse network of collaborators. Please see our team website (Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group: www.mccallum-disease-ecology.com) for more information, or volunteer with us (https://www.facebook.com/groups/FrogWorkVolunteers/).

 

Start date: Trimesters 1, 2 or 3, 2019; Contact: l.grogan@griffith.edu.au

3922ESC Special Research Project:

"Rainforest BioCondition Assessment"

Supervisors: Dr. Laura Grogan and Prof. Hamish McCallum (EFRI, Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group), Dr. David Newell (Forest Research Centre, Southern Cross University)

Project: Rainforest ecosystems are among the most biodiverse environments on Earth. Although covering only 2% of the global surface area, they house 50% of the world’s plant and vertebrate species. However, there are numerous threats to the integrity of these ecosystems, including land-clearing, fragmentation, invasive species, pollution and climate change. The aim of this project is to examine the vegetation structure and condition of a range of subtropical rainforest sites around south-east QLD and north-east NSW, comparing sites with varying altitude, aspect, slope and proximity to cleared land, to better understand the characteristics affecting rainforest integrity.

 

This project will directly assist with understanding habitat characteristics of the endangered Fleay’s barred frog, as part of more extensive research funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant. This larger project involves a team of researchers (including PhD candidates and post-docs) and a diverse network of collaborators. The student will have the opportunity to assist with other aspects of this project (including amphibian surveys). Please see our team website (Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group: www.mccallum-disease-ecology.com) for more information.

 

Start date: Trimesters 1, 2 or 3, 2019

Contact: l.grogan@griffith.edu.au

3922ESC Special Research Project:

"Rainforest stream habitat assessment"

Supervisors: Dr. Laura Grogan and Prof. Hamish McCallum (EFRI, Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group), Dr. David Newell (Forest Research Centre, Southern Cross University)

Project: Rainforest streams are highly variable environments providing important habitats for amphibians, fish, insects, and an important water source for animals on the forest floor. Characteristics of the topography, stream channel and underlying bedrock play an important role in determining vegetation growth, and in turn, animal diversity. The aim of this project is to examine these various characteristics at a range of subtropical rainforest stream sites around south-east QLD and north-east NSW. Streams across a range of altitudes and types of forest will be compared to better understand the characteristics affecting amphibian habitat selection.

 

This project will directly assist with understanding stream habitat characteristics of a range of rainforest amphibians including the endangered Fleay’s barred frog, as part of more extensive research funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant. This larger project involves a team of researchers (including PhD candidates and post-docs) and a diverse network of collaborators. The student will have the opportunity to assist with other aspects of this project (including amphibian surveys). Please see our team website (Griffith Wildlife Disease Ecology Group: www.mccallum-disease-ecology.com) for more information.

 

Start date: Trimesters 1, 2 or 3, 2019

 

Contact: l.grogan@griffith.edu.au