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WHG ABROAD

Updated: Jan 10

In recent weeks, several Wildlife Health Ghent (WHG) team members had the opportunity to speak about their research at international conferences. Mariana, Leni, Andrea and Frank presented at the Global Amphibian & Reptile Disease (GARD) congress in Knoxville (USA), while Jesse was a guest at the European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) in Prague.


ECCB in Prague


GARD, Knoxville

Leni got five minutes to explain how WHG has investigated an alternative method to quell Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) outbreaks, which are contributing to amphibian declines worldwide. The method has not yet been applied in nature, but would have way less impact than the aggressive – yet necessary - strategies that are being used nowadays. Interested? Read more about the research here.


Mariana presented a part of her PhD research on the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in endangered toad species. The conference took place in a hybrid fashion, allowing Mariana's participation to take place online. Her presentation was about the seasonal variation of Bd in the endangered red-bellied toad (Melanophryniscus admirabilis).


Also Andrea participated to the GARD conference in an online fashion. He presented the results from his study on the effect of fungicides on the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in agricultural areas. In fact, the amount of fungicides present in the water can protect amphibians against Bd by preventing the growth of the fungus and limiting its effects on the animals. This prompted some interesting questions, and despite advising against an active use of fungicides against Bd this is indeed an important insight to counter this amphibian pandemic.


Finally, Frank spoke as well at the conference. He explained the European policy on amphibian diseases and gave a general picture of the Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans outbreak in Europe.


One cannot simply host a conference in the salamander hotspot of North America without showing off the diversity it holds. The local committee of GARD hosted several field trips, including one in search of the rare Wehrle’s salamander (Plethodon wehrlei) and very cryptic green salamander (Aneides aeneus). All salamanders were sampled for diseases, measured, and re-released in their respective crevices.


Aneides aeneus


ECCB, Prague

Jesse presented some of his PhD research on the salamander-killing chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), leading to some interesting discussions and – hopefully – even more amphibian love within the community. The conference featured fascinating plenary lectures, a pretty on-campus tortoise (Trachemys), and touched upon many important current issues, from conserving European megafauna to the essential value of biodiversity in decision-making, and making conservation science more inclusive.

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