The ecology of chytridiomycosis: endemism, refugia and reciprocal effects between amphibian hosts and their environment

Alexandra Laking
Faculteit Diergeneeskunde
Vakgroep Pathologie, Bacteriologie en Pluimveeziekten
Alexandra Elizabeth Laking was born on September 14, 1988 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. She received her BSc degree in Honors Zoology from the University of Guelph in Guelph, Canada in 2011. After finishing her degree, she spent several field seasons in a montane cloud forest in Honduras doing herpetological field surveys, which help develop the bases for future work. She returned to this location for her MSc project titled "The Persistence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the Water Bodies of Cusuco National Park, Honduras”. She received her Master of Science in Biology: Profile Herpetology, with greatest distinction, from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in 2015. In the fall of the same year, she started her doctoral training in the in the Wildlife health Ghent research group within the Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases, at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Ghent University. Under the supervision of Prof. dr. An Martel and Prof. dr. Frank Pasmans, she investigated the interactions of amphibian chytrid infection dynamics and the surrounding environment. This research was funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and the UGent GOA project Scaling up Functional Biodiversity Research: from Individuals to Landscapes and Back (TREEWEB).
Academische graad
Doctor in de diergeneeskundige wetenschappen
Taal proefschrift
Prof. dr. A. Martel, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium - Prof. dr. F. Pasmans, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium
Prof. dr. S. Croubels, Faculteit Diergeneeskunde UGent - Prof. dr. G. Janssens Faculteit Diergeneeskunde, UGent - Dr. A. Spitzen van der Sluijs Stichting RAVON, Postbus 1413, 6501 BK Nijmegen, Nederland - Dr. J. Speybroeck INBO, Herman Teirlinckgebouw, Havenlaan 88 bus 73, 6.64 1000 Brussel - Prof. dr. L. Lens Faculteit Wetenschappen, UGent

Korte beschrijving

Amphibian chytridiomycosis is a skin disease caused by the fungal pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal). It is responsible for amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide and it is thought to be the greatest threat to biodiversity attributed to an infectious disease. It has been recently hypothesized that both species originate from East Asia and that globalization has led to the spread of both species. Bsal has become established in Europe where it causes salamander population declines and can lead to extinctions of infected populations. Bd has a worldwide distribution causing amphibian declines and extinctions throughout. However, not all areas or species are equally affected, which is attributed to host, pathogen and environmental factors. Most research is looking at these factors separately and little is known about the complex trophic interactions of the pathogen and host within the environment. It is not only important to understand environmental influence on chytrid disease dynamics, but also the ecosystem level effects of amphibian loss due to Bd and Bsal. The effects of such amphibian declines are poorly understood; however, biodiversity loss and the resulting ecosystem changes can be expected to impact ecosystem functions.


Vrijdag 6 november 2020, 14:00
Faculteit Diergeneeskunde, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke

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