"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Frog 'sonas' are a lifeline for the endangered frog population.

Macquarie University researchers have used heat to develop a straightforward and effective solution to help endangered frogs survive the devastating effects of a pandemic spreading across multiple species.

In collaboration with the University of Melbourne, the researchers homed in on the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which has already worn out no less than six amphibian species in Australia and threatens dozens more worldwide.

The findings, published within the journal June 26, 2024, offer a possible lifeline for rapidly declining populations reminiscent of the green and golden bell frog (Laturia aurea), which has lost greater than 90 percent of its former native range in Australia. has disappeared.

Dr Anthony Waddle, a Schmidt Science Fellow in Applied Biosciences at Macquarie University and lead creator of the study, says that few interventions can address the impact of the international spread of the disease-causing chytrid fungus (Betrachocytrium dendrobatidis or Bd). do

“In the 25 years since chytrid was identified as a major cause of the global collapse of amphibian populations, our findings provide a simple, inexpensive and widespread way to buffer frogs against this disease,” says Dr. Waddle. Be the primary to offer actionable strategies.”

Chytridiomycosis (chytrid) often establishes itself permanently when it spreads to a recent environment and has caused more damage to global biodiversity than some other recorded disease or invasive species.

Worldwide, 90 of the species affected by chytrid are extinct or considered extinct within the wild. Another 124 species have declined by greater than 90 percent.

Senior creator Professor Rick Shine, from Macquarie University's School of Natural Sciences, says the research has demonstrated a straightforward intervention that will be easily scaled up, potentially helping to cut back the impact of deadly chytrid epidemics. does.

“Chytrid is not going extinct, but our behavioral ecology interventions may help endangered amphibians coexist with chytridiomycosis in their ecosystems,” says Professor Shine.

The research team found artificial 'hotspot' shelters built from available materials, reminiscent of bricks and PVC greenhouses, could allow frogs to quickly 'bake off' infections with the chytrid fungus. are

When frogs moved to hotspot sanctuaries, chytrid infections decreased significantly. “The whole thing is like a mini-med spa for frogs,” says Dr. Waddle.

“In these easy little hotspots, frogs can go and warmth their bodies to a temperature that kills infections.

The study also showed that frogs that survive chytrid infection can develop a type of acquired immunity, making them more proof against future infections.

“Reducing the mortality rate and increasing their immunity to chytrid is the key to protecting amphibians from this disease, which is now widespread around the world,” says Dr. Waddle.

Dr Waddle says these easy 'hotspot' shelters are easy to breed, and the strategy can easily be scaled up with community involvement.

Professor Leigh Skret in Wildlife Bioscience on the University of Melbourne says: “This research has great potential to extrapolate to other frog species at risk of chytridiomycosis, and demonstrates that cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional This shows the importance of Talkbourne's global issue.”