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Response to Lampo et al.

Posted by pbio on 07 May 2009 at 22:27 GMT

Author: Karen Lips
Position: Associate Professor
Institution: Southern Illinois University
Additional Authors: Michael W. Sears, Joseh R. Mendelson, Jay Diffendorfer
Submitted Date: December 04, 2008
Published Date: December 11, 2008
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Lampo et al. (1) discuss what they know of historic amphibian declines of Atelopus in Venezuela, described as Wave 2 in our original paper (2). They highlight problems with the original Atelopus database that we previously discussed (e.g., lags in detection, differences between DOD and LYO). We proposed a set of waves, or hypotheses, that describe our view of how Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) might have spread through upland amphibian populations. Genetic data describing the phylogeographic pattern among collections of Bd in South America are needed to test these hypotheses (2, 3). First, we emphasize that our statistical analyses show strong support for our conclusions, and are robust with up to 20 years of error in reported dates of decline – well within the 5–7 years mentioned by (1). Secondly we remind readers that of the five epidemic waves hypothesized for upland amphibian faunas in Central and South America, we were unable to find statistical support for only one wave, that for Venezuela. This wave had few locations of known declines, and many were in close geographic proximity. In fact we described (2; p. 11) how removal of one of those points (A. sorianoi) resulted in a significant wave with a low slope that would be strongly influenced by outlying points. We reiterate our call for additional data, from retrospective surveys of museum specimens, field population surveys, and phylogeographic analysis of Bd cultures to better understand disease dynamics of Bd in amphibian populations in Venezuela and elsewhere.

1. M. Lampo D. Sánchez, F. Nava-González, C. Zulay García, A. Acevedo, PLOSBiology, 1 December (2008).

2. K. R. Lips, J. Diffendorfer, J. R. Mendelson III, M. W. Sears, PLOSBiology 6, 441–454 (2008).

2. J. R. Rohr, T. R. Raffel, J. M. Romansic, H. McCallum, P. J. Hudson, PNAS 105, 17436 –17441 (2008).

No competing interests declared.