Robert Puschendorf

 

I am an ARC postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Australia. My research interests surround the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the mass extirpations of amphibians in tropical areas, which are linked to a disease known as chytridiomycosis. 


Recently I have focused on the importance of environmental conditions in the frequency and likelihood of frog disease outbreaks, and the impacts on populations across different environmental gradients. Interestingly and significantly, this work has uncovered a pattern of dry forests as environmental refugia from disease driven amphibian extinctions, which is consistent across continents; in Costa Rica and tropical Australia.


Following on from this recent discovery, I am using a combination of ecological and molecular techniques to look into how amphibians coexist with high prevalence of the amphibian chytrid in the Australian dry forest, adjacent to rainforest. One theory that I am testing is whether source-sink dynamics have been established between rainforest and these peripheral dry forest populations, and more importantly, whether amphibians in this system are evolving resistance to the disease. To address these pressing questions, I have developed an extensive collaborative network, which currently spans Australia, North America and Costa Rica.