Fighting disease so our frogs don’t croak it

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1. Please provide a short summary of your research, project or technology.

Imagine a fungal disease growing on skin that could wipe out entire species.. This is what has happened to amphibians around the world. Alongside other threats, over 40% of frog species are now threatened with extinction. In Queensland, some twenty years after disease initially broke out, some species of rainforest frogs are recovering from wide-spread declines. We are examining different species to work out why. Our research has documented recovering frog populations and examined their genetic structure, looked at the effect of temperature fluctuation on infection by the fungi, and developed policies for management in uninfected areas. This knowledge can help us to conserve frogs that have not yet recovered and strategise conservation in places where chytrid is a threat. Emerging infectious diseases are on the rise globally and Queensland frogs are a leading example of how to tackle them. We are fighting disease so that frogs don’t croak it.

2. Additional Details

·     ABOUT ME

I am postdoctoral research scientist at James Cook University. My research focuses on Conservation Biology assisting in the management of invasive species, threatened species, and emerging infectious diseases. I have a passion for lesser-loved critters and focus on frogs because they are among the most threatened vertebrates on earth.


I love teaching and communicating my science experiences. You can read my blogs at, connect on Twitter @deborah_bower or support my leadership pursuits through



My research is part of a large and varied team. My two PhD students Sasha Greenspan and Donald McKnight are completing studies on the wet tropics system of north Queensland. Sasha's thesis is exploring Thermal Thresholds in the Amphibian Disease Chytridiomycosis and Donald is studying The Recovery of Frog Populations from a Chytridiomycosis Outbreak. My boss Lin Schwarzkopf and colleague Simon Clulow are also integral to my current research and we collaborate widely with scientists in Australia, Papua New Guinea, China and the United States of America.



Greenspan, S., Bower, D.S., Webb, R. J., Berger, L., Rudd, D., Schwarzkopf, L., Alford. R. A., (2017) White blood cell profiles in amphibians help to explain disease susceptibility following temperature shifts. Developmental and Comparative Immunology 77, 280-286.

McKnight, D., Alford, R. A., Hoskin, C., Schwarzkopf, L., Greenspan, S., Zenger, K., Bower, D.S. (2017) Fighting an uphill battle: The recovery of frogs in Australia’s Wet Tropics. Ecology. 98:3221-3223

Bower, D. S., Lips, K., Schwarzkopf, L., Georges, A., Clulow, S. (2017). Amphibians on the brink: Pre-emptive policies can protect amphibians from devastating fungal diseases. Science 357:454-455

Greenspan, S., Bower, D.S.; Roznik, L., Marantelli, G., Pike, D., Schwarzkopf, L., Alford, R., Scheffers, B. (2017) Infection increases vulnerability to climate change via effects on host thermal tolerance. Scientific Reports 7 (1), 9349

Greenspan, S., Bower, D.S.; Webb, R., Roznik, E., Stevenson, L., Berger, L., Marantelli, G., Pike, D., Schwarzkopf, L., Alford, R (2017) Realistic heat pulses protect frogs from disease under simulated rainforest frog thermal regimes. Functional Ecology (2017) DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12944

Bower, D. S., Mengersen, K., Alford, R.A. , Schwarzkopf, L. (2017) Using a Bayesian Network to clarify areas requiring research in a host-pathogen system. Conservation Biology 31:1373–1382.

McKnight, D., Schwarzkopf, L., Alford, R.A., Bower, D. S. Zenger, K.R (2017) Effects of emerging infectious diseases on host population genetics: a review. Conservation Genetics 18(6), 1235-1245




Elizah Nagombi
about 2 years ago

Yeahii, let's save the frogs!

Laura Clare
about 2 years ago

croak it pun gets the vote

Kate Williams
about 2 years ago

keep up the good work Deb ?

J Dale Roberts
about 2 years ago

Deb keep cranking out the papers! Dale

Brea Morrison
about 2 years ago

I love frogs too!

Rebecca webb
about 2 years ago

you go sissy