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      From The Cover: Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community

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          Abstract

          Pathogens rarely cause extinctions of host species, and there are few examples of a pathogen changing species richness and diversity of an ecological community by causing local extinctions across a wide range of species. We report the link between the rapid appearance of a pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in an amphibian community at El Copé, Panama, and subsequent mass mortality and loss of amphibian biodiversity across eight families of frogs and salamanders. We describe an outbreak of chytridiomycosis in Panama and argue that this infectious disease has played an important role in amphibian population declines. The high virulence and large number of potential hosts of this emerging infectious disease threaten global amphibian diversity.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wildlife-- Threats to Biodiversity and Human Health

           P. Daszak (2000)
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            Declining amphibian populations: the problem of separating human impacts from natural fluctuations.

            Reports of declining amphibian populations in many parts of the world are numerous, but supporting long-term census data are generally unavailable. Census data from 1979 to 1990 for three salamander species and one frog species at a breeding pond in South Carolina showed fluctuations of substantial magnitude in both the size of breeding populations and in recruitment of juveniles. Breeding population sizes exhibited no overall trend in three species and increased in the fourth. Recent droughts account satisfactorily for an increase in recruitment failures. These data illustrate that to distinguish between natural population fluctuations and declines with anthropogenic causes may require long-term studies.
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              Detecting disease and parasite threats to endangered species and ecosystems.

              Ecologists have recently begun to acknowledge the importance of disease and parasites in the dynamics of populations. Diseases and parasites have probably been responsible for a number of extinctions on islands and on large land masses, but the problem has only been identified in retrospect. In contrast, endemic pathogens and parasites may operate as keystone species, playing a crucial role in maintaining the diversity of ecological communities and ecosystems. Will recent advances in the understanding of parasite population biology allow us to predict threats to endangered species and communities?
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                February 28 2006
                February 28 2006
                February 15 2006
                February 28 2006
                : 103
                : 9
                : 3165-3170
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0506889103
                1413869
                16481617
                © 2006
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