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Amphibian DeclinesThe Conservation Status of United States Species$
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Michael Lannoo

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520235922

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520235922.001.0001

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Parasite Infection and Limb Malformations: A Growing Problem in Amphibian Conservation

Parasite Infection and Limb Malformations: A Growing Problem in Amphibian Conservation

(p.124) Twenty Parasite Infection and Limb Malformations: A Growing Problem in Amphibian Conservation
Amphibian Declines

Pieter T.J. Johnson

Kevin B. Lunde

University of California Press

Over the last two decades, scientists have become increasingly concerned about ongoing trends of amphibian population decline and extinction. Parasitic pathogens, including certain bacteria, fungi, viruses, and helminths, have frequently been implicated as causes of gross pathology and mass die-offs, often in synergism with environmental stressors. More recently, malformed amphibians have been reported with increasing frequency in several parts of North America. Since 1992, severe limb abnormalities, including extra, missing, and malformed limbs, have appeared in dozens of species from diverse habitats, including several species in marked decline. While it is unlikely that these abnormalities have been a major source of historical amphibian population declines, they may represent an emerging threat, particularly if they are increasing in frequency. In the western United States, many of the reported sites have been linked directly to intense parasite infections. A little-studied trematode, Ribeiroia ondatrae, was identified as the culprit. This chapter examines Ribeiroia infection and amphibian limb malformations. It discusses human impacts on trematodes and their relevance to Ribeiroia epidemiology.

Keywords:   United States, amphibians, population declines, Ribeiroia ondatrae, malformations, trematodes, parasite infections, epidemiology, parasitic pathogens, limb abnormalities

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