Wednesday, 17 February 2010

RACEing ahead (as Mat likes to say)

Yes, the European Bd project is having it's second meeting. Aside from the rather kitch Star Trek allegories, the meeting is extremely informative. Highlights include updates on the Swiss surveillance and mitigation projects, Jaime's work on Iberian endangered species, temporal patterns of Bd infection in adult toads and the Mallorcan mitigation project and a fantastic experiment by Emilien and Sandrine from Lyon examining the interaction between experimental Bd challenge and host population isolation. Currently we are in the midst of a workshop, led by David and Chris, learning how to real time our data into the European (and, by extension, the global) d-base. Our EU network grows: we have at a minimum another ten active Bd research groups in Europe, and several others readying themselves for initiating projects. At least 5 new PhDs in Europe working on Bd!

While it's clear that field projects in France have some time before starting (we are meeting in Grenoble and the snow and temperature are clear indicators of that), we are gearing up for field work at some of the warmer locales. Jaime will soon start another Iberia-wide field trip, interrupted by a collaborative project with Judit Voros (sorry, Judit, no idea how to do umlauts in Blogger) in Hungary, and Jon Bielby and I should be heading to Sardinia soon to continue our collaborative project with Zirichiltaggi and Ente Foreste Sarda.

A challenge to our North American counterparts: start blogging!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Living the high life is risky business for midwive's in Iberia

Walker et al. have published their long-awaited survey of the prevalence of Bd across the Iberian peninsula in Ecology Letters. The study focuses on common midwives, Alytes muletensis, and combines multilocus genotyping with bayesian analyses to show that Bd is not at equilibrium within Iberia, but is still spreading. While lowland populations of Alytes appear to co-exist with the chytrid, high-altitude populations exhibit chytridiomycosis and seasonal die-offs, demonstrating a very strong interaction between altitude/temperature and disease. Within a key region, the Pyrenean mountain range, Bd is absent across the majority of the range except for a tight cluster of genotypically-identical Bd strains in the western Pyrenean National Park. How Bd arrived in this region is not known: there are no known introduced non-native amphibian species in this area however the montane lakes are regularly 'seeded' with salmonid fish for the angling industry. Efforts now need to focus on the process of introduction and spread, as it is a key concern to prevent the wider spread of Bd throughout this ecologically sensitive region.