Protecting against disease transmission

Disease is a huge factor in declining amphibian populations and this is likely to get worse with climate change.

  • Design contingency plans based on analysis so managers can allocate resources efficiently and appropriately
    • Goal is to limit or stop the spread
    • Give clear scientifically based guidelines with specific actions for managers and others to implement

In planning for disease the goal is biosecurity. The list below is a suggested protocol for ensuring biosecurity of desert amphibian populations from disease.  (note: the general plan can also be used for invasive species)     

Combined these components are used to evaluate risk.

image showing land dry, wet, waterlogged and flooded

1. Reduce stress

  • Reducing stress can boost amphibian immune response. 
  • Actions to reduce stress can include: 
    • increasing hydroperiod
    • removal of accumulated debris in anthropogenically created water sites
    • reducing human or livestock use of waters during larval development.
Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative

2. Establish multidisciplinary groups (agency personnel, scientists, politicians, concerned citizens, etc) to evaluate initial risk.

  • It is critical that all interested parties are involved in this process .  This creates a culture of disease management that can help improve the chances of a successful outcome


3. Risk analysis helps managers to allocate resources appropriately towards the largest threats and the most vulnerable locations

  • What does it mean if disease shows up – how will it impact the system?
  • Risk analysis in a spatially explicit framework should consider the following:
    • The problem
    • The effects
    • The extent

Some questions to consider during the risk analysis:

  • What are the projected impacts on ecosystems if it shows up?
  • Are any T&E species at risk?
  • Are there biological or behavioral  reasons some species would be more at risk?
  • Where is the disease currently located and how is it likely to enter the system (host, pet trade, etc)?

Disease information and Guidelines on surveillance 

4. Increase biosecurity measures

  • Make measures standard practice
  • Plan increased biosecurity measures needed with arrival of disease

5. Implement a monitoring program

  • This is your early warning system
  • Staff must be trained to be able to detect signs of invasion
  • Lines of communication must be very clear from the start.  Who is immediately notified and what steps do they take?
    • Also notify neighboring land management organizations
  • Response to identification of disease must be rapid.

6. Take action quickly to reduce the spread and impact of diseases