Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community

Karen R. Lips, Forrest Brem, Roberto Brenes, John D. Reeve, Ross A. Alford, Jamie Voyles, Cynthia Carey, Lauren Livo, Allan P. Pessier, James Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

981 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3165-3170
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 28 2006


  • Chytridiomycosis
  • Extinction
  • Fungus
  • Panama
  • Tropics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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