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Coevolution

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Some Toads Are Better Than Others
Teacher Contributed

Some Toads Are Better Than Others

Bufo boreas

Topic

Population responses to Chytid amphibian fungus

Student Exploration

Wait! That's Not A Prince

Some of you many have heard people express concerns about declining amphibian populations worldwide. The causes of this overall pattern are not all crystal clear (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7144/full/nature05941.html) but one thing which is clear is the chytid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a serious player in the game. Watch this video to find out more about this problem

Scientists are attempting to deal with the problem of these declining populations, but when dealing with populations so large (all amphibians) and scales so big (the whole planet) there are always many factors to consider. One approach scientists at the USGS are using is to focus on a specific species and investigate differing responses in regional populations to this fungus. Through this approach the found that some infected populations show increased reproductive output (they have more babies) and this helps to offset the death of older individuals. This finding is encouraging as it indicates some populations may be able to persist long enough to develop a resistance to the fungus. It also helps the scientists identify populations which may be at greater risks than others. You can read about their work here http://www.fort.usgs.gov/news/news_story.asp?WebID=110718

Extension Investigation

If you need help scratching a mental itch, use the resources below:

  1. How is it believed Chytrid fungus spread around the world?
  2. What affect may global climate change be having on the decline of amphibians?
  3. What affect has Chytrid fungus had on amphibians on a global scale? Is this affect the same on the scazle of countries?
  4. How does the Chytrid amphibian fungus affect the frog Xenopus laevis?
  5. How can the USGS study of Bufo boreas aid in the conservation of other amphibian species?
  6. How has natural selection affected the response of African amphibians to Chrytid amphibian fungus?

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