Using Environmental and Natural History Traits to Predict On-going Global Amphibian Die-offs

Kristina Frogoso, a student from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, worked with Dr. Scott Connelly to examine the threat of a fungal pathogen to amphibian populations.

Abstract: Biodiversity loss is occurring in substantial rates, and more specifically we are seeing major amphibian declines due to infectious diseases. One infectious disease in particular is chytridiomycosis which is caused by a fungal pathogen called Batrachocytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). In order to predict future amphibian die-offs and prevent population decline using conservation methods, it is necessary to understand environmental variables and natural history traits in relation to Bd. The question is what variables are significant predictors of die-offs? A multiple linear regression (logit) was generated on RStudio to model the relationship first between environmental variables and then with added natural life history traits as the explanatory variables and threat status as the response variable. The threat status for species that had unknown threat status was predicted with 77% accuracy. Also, breeding site showed the most significant in predicting threat status of amphibian species, p < 0.5. The results show that species living in more permanent bodies of water tend to be more threatened that species that live in ephemeral sites. In conclusion, more information for other amphibian species and more thorough integration of trait data are needed to better predict population decline.


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