Amphibian Disease Lab

Investigating pathogens that threaten amphibian biodiversity.

Recent rates of extinction have caused some to question whether we are in the midst of Earth’s 6th mass extinction event. One of the most imperiled groups of animals is amphibians. Since the 1980s, as many as 122 amphibian species may have gone extinct. Another 1,896 species of frogs and salamanders are thought to be in imminent danger of extinction according to the IUCN. Pathogens, in particular viruses in the genus Ranavirus and fungi in the genus Batrachochytrium (B. dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans), have been implicated in global amphibian declines, ranging from location population declines and extirpations to species extinctions. 

Our lab investigates how these pathogens threaten amphibian species. Using a combination of laboratory and mesocosm experiments and mathematical modeling, we evaluate host-pathogen interactions to advance understanding of the epidemiology of amphibian diseases, which is an essential step to identifying effective disease management strategies. By taking a transdisciplinary approach to research, we are able to investigate the epidemiology of amphibian pathogens across multiple scales of biological organization and use the power of mathematics to elucidate essential components of the disease process. Our research team includes microbiologists, veterinarians, immunologists, mathematicians and disease ecologists. We implement the tenets of Convergence Science to investigate the complexities of emerging infectious diseases and produce solutions that can be implemented by wildlife health  and natural resource practitioners.

A collage of members from the Amphibian Disease Lab working with live salamanders.

“With eastern North America as a global hotspot for salamander biodiversity, this research will allow science-based decisions to be made on Bsal response actions most likely to thwart an outbreak in the USA and elsewhere.”
Professor Matt Gray

“The lesions I see under the microscope are significant, destroying the epidermis in highly susceptible species, which is deadly to amphibians that rely on their skin for osmoregulation and respiration.”  
Professor Debra Miller

Get Involved!

We’re looking for creative, motivated, and committed individuals at all levels to join our team. If you are interested in our research, please contact us.