Presented by Brittany Mitchell
PhD Candidate, University of NSW
Supervisors: Dr Jodi Rowley (AM, UNSW), Prof Richard Kingsford (UNSW), Prof Louise Rollins-Smith (Vanderbilt University)
Urban areas present animals with habitats completely different to those in which they evolved in. For example, changes in land-use can lead to changes in habitat complexity and connectivity. Unsuitable habitat is likely to become more prevalent, leading to a greater need to understand what features of urban habitats are likely to promote/maintain diversity. This is particularly relevant for frogs, the most threatened vertebrate group globally, and for which over 40% of are threatened by urban development alone. Unfortunately, our current understanding is limited spatially, with studies often focusing on single cities. In my talk, I will explore how FrogID data can inform what habitat characteristics promote threatened species persistence across Australia’s urban centres.
However, urban areas do not just change habitats, they also influence physiology. Urban areas are stressful environments, and this can lead to immune suppression. This is concerning considering the threat frogs face from the fungal disease, chytridiomycosis. Despite the link between urbanisation and stress, limited research exists, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. In my talk, I will additionally detail my investigations into how urban environments affect Australian frog stress levels, immune capacity, and production of antimicrobial peptides that are crucial to reducing their susceptibility to disease.