TitleEcophysiology meets conservation: understanding the role of disease in amphibian population declines
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBlaustein, AR, Gervasi, SS, Johnson, PTJ, Hoverman, JT, Belden, LK, Bradley, PW, Xie, GY
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Infectious diseases are intimately associated with the dynamics of biodiversity. However, the role that infectious disease plays within ecological communities is complex. The complex effects of infectious disease at the scale of communities and ecosystems are driven by the interaction between host and pathogen. Whether or not a given host-pathogen interaction results in progression from infection to disease is largely dependent on the physiological characteristics of the host within the context of the external environment. Here, we highlight the importance of understanding the outcome of infection and disease in the context of host ecophysiology using amphibians as a model system. Amphibians are ideal for such a discussion because many of their populations are experiencing declines and extinctions, with disease as an important factor implicated in many declines and extinctions. Exposure to pathogens and the host's responses to infection can be influenced by many factors related to physiology such as host life history, immunology, endocrinology, resource acquisition, behaviour and changing climates. In our review, we discuss the relationship between disease and biodiversity. We highlight the dynamics of three amphibian host-pathogen systems that induce different effects on hosts and life stages and illustrate the complexity of amphibian-host-parasite systems. We then review links between environmental stress, endocrine-immune interactions, disease and climate change.

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