To start off the new year, here is an article from the Washington Post on the spread of Bd, including a short video on the continuing mission of Panama’s Amphibian Rescue and Conservation center. The article initially paints a very depressing picture of amphibian population declines in Central America and briefly discusses the difficulties of sustaining a successful amphibian captive breeding and reintroduction program. Even when discussing potential solutions near the end of the article, there are still undertones of hopelessness. One of the most interesting solutions for protecting frogs from chytrid that was mentioned was vaccinating frogs against Bd. A study done in 2010 suggested that chytrid vaccination is not a valid solution for the Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa), but another study published the same year found that vaccination resulted in a heightened immune response in African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). This difference in immune response may help partially explain why African clawed frogs are more resistant to Bd than mountain yellow-legged frogs, which have suffered significant declines throughout their range in the U.S. It is possible that vaccinations only trigger enhanced immune responses in those species that already have some resistance to the chytrid fungus. However, further studies to determine if Bd vaccination could trigger an enhanced immune response in other species of amphibians are needed before any conclusions can be made.
Frog: 5, Fungus: 6 [I’m counting this as a loss for frogs since only the African clawed frogs exhibited a response to the vaccine]