Amphibians are currently the most threatened vertebrate groups globally and many of the recent catastrophic declines in this group are thought to have been caused by emerging infectious diseases. This report reviews the literature and summarizes input from experts to assess the risks and develop recommendations for amphibian disease management in B.C. There is only very rudimentary knowledge of amphibian disease prevalence in B.C. This lack of information in the face of an increasing number of reports on the impacts of amphibian diseases suggests that amphibian disease assessments are urgently required for B.C. populations if adequate management strategies are to be developed. The highest priority species for disease assessments are endangered species such as the Northern Leopard Frog, Oregon Spotted Frog and Tiger Salamander; species showing disease related declines in other jurisdictions, such as the Western Toad; and species in small isolated populations such as the Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog, Great Basin Spadefoot and the Coastal Giant Salamander. The Red-legged Frog could also be considered as a high priority species as closely related species have been showing disease related declines. Amphibians are a crucial link between aquatic and terrestrial food webs cycling energy and nutrients between the two systems by the alternation of terrestrial and aquatic life stages. Disease-induced decline and even loss of amphibian species is likely to have far-reaching direct and indirect effects that cascade through ecosystems. For the appropriate management of amphibian species at risk in B.C., understanding of amphibian disease prevalence and the risks of outbreaks is vital. Standardized protocols for monitoring the status of amphibian populations, assessment of baseline disease prevalence and detection of disease outbreaks are required, and there is a need to assign responsibility for diagnostic testing and data collation to facilitate amphibian disease management.
Govindarajulu, Purnima P.. 2007. Emerging Infectious Diseases in British Columbian Amphibians: Literature Review to Assess Risk and Develop Survey Recommendations. Ministry of Environment