Midwife Toad Research
To study the genetics and diseases of midwife toads in Switzerland
Amphibians are facing a severe crisis worldwide. The main threats are the loss of habitat and an emerging infectious fungal disease named chytridiomycosis.
The common midwife toad, Alytes obstetricans suffers from habitat loss which isolates populations leading to a loss of genetic diversity. This lack of genetic diversity may make the toad more susceptible to the chytrid fungus - 15 toad populations in Switzerland are already known to be affected and the disease is causing a severe population decline in Spain - but whether and how genetic diversity and the disease are interacting is still unknown. More research on the population structures and distribution of the chytrid fungus is needed to be able to implement effective conservation measures for this wonderful toad.
To better understand the impact of decreasing genetic diversity and the chytrid fungus on the toad populations and to determine whether genetics and habitat
characteristics are linked to chytrid infection
rates, a research project was started in 2007. The project investigates
(1) the population structure and impact of genetic diversity on the
survival of Alytes obstetricans, (2) the distribution of
chytridiomycosis in Switzerland, (3) the interaction between
chytridiomycosis and genetic diversity, and (4) the infection rates in
positively tested ponds in relation to habitat structures. A poster
presentation of the ongoing work was made in 2008 - the Year of the
WAZA Conservation Project 08002 is implemented by the Zoological Institute of Zurich University and supported by the Zurich Zoo and Langenberg wildlife Park. Other partners or supporters are the Zoological Institute and the Research Fund of Zurich University, the Janggen-Pöhn Foundation St. Gallen, the Foundation for Biological Research Basel, and EUAC.
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