The Global Impact of Chytridiomycosis

Figure 1. Scheele et al., 2019. Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversity. Science 363: 1459-1463.

We often get asked… how bad is the global Bd epidemic, really?

Our lab participated in a global, quantitative assessment of the amphibian chytridiomycosis panzootic, published today in Science. Chytridiomycosis is one of the most devastating examples of a wildlife epidemic, and this disease played a role in the decline of at least 501 amphibian species over the past half-century, including 90 presumed extinctions. The effects of chytridiomycosis have been greatest in range-restricted anurans, wet climates, and high elevations in the Americas and Australia. Declines peaked in the 1980s, and only 12% of declined species show signs of recovery. Plenty of work to be done still to identify mechanisms of species recovery and develop mitigation actions.

Ben Scheele deserves full credit for leading this huge group of amphibian biologists!

Katie Garrett and Jonathan Kolby made a beautiful (and sobering) video about our results, Cornell Chronicle published a piece on the paper, and Dan Greenberg and Wendy Palen also authored a ‘Perspective’ piece.