In 2005 we came across the first known incidence of ranavirus in our country, which took place in the heart of the Picos of Europe National Park. Since then we have been studying the devastating effects of the pathogen in amphibian populations in the Park. The most affected species have been the Common Midwife Toad (Alytes obstetricans) and the Alpine newt (Mesotriton alpestris), and in our work published in the journal Current Biology you can find all the information about the case.
This year the National Park managers have commissioned a preliminary study of variability and gene flow in populations of the common toad. The aim of this study is to determine the genetic structure, not only of the populations affected by ranavirus but also of other nearby uninfected populations that could serve as source populations in a future reintroduction or reinforcement programme of the affected populations.
Last week we collected the first samples of DNA. As you can see in the photos, the snow in the highlands has already melted and the midwife toads have begun to leave their winter shelters.
Thank you, once again, to the entire management team of the National Park and the fantastic nursery who have been working with us since 2006 in the amphibian monitoring programme of the Picos.