Congratulations to Simon Clulow for winning this year’s Southwood Prize, Journal of Applied Ecology‘s award for the best paper by an early career researcher in the 55th (2018) volume of the journal.
Simon’s winning paper, Elevated salinity blocks pathogen transmission and improves host survival from the global amphibian chytrid pandemic: Implications for translocations, shows that manipulating environmental salinity in landscapes where amphibians are translocated can mitigate the impacts of the amphibian chytrid disease by lowering infection rates and thus improve the probability of population persistence for amphibians currently affected by chytridiomycosis. More broadly, Simon and his co-authors provide support for the paradigm that environmental manipulation can be used to mitigate the impact of emerging infectious diseases.
The journal’s Senior Editors describe the work as a clear and striking study that gives hope for tackling one of the most pernicious of contemporary threats to biodiversity: that of chytridiomycosis. The paper demonstrates, for the first time, that the probable primary mechanism of a previously demonstrated beneficial effect of salinity on survival of green and golden bell frog is reduced disease transmission, and not increased survival of infected frogs. The paper thus combines clear new contributions to scientific knowledge and impactful management recommendations, making it a worthy winner of the Southwood Prize. It is well-written for a broad audience while also being immensely topical. The findings are important and could have widespread practical applications.
The winning paper, Elevated salinity blocks pathogen transmission and improves host survival from the global amphibian chytrid pandemic: Implications for translocations, as well as those articles shortlisted for this year’s award are available to read in this Virtual Issue.
Simon Clulow is a Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Sydney. He received his PhD from the University of Newcastle for studies investigating ways in which environmental stressors can be used to mitigate the impacts of emerging wildlife diseases via the environmental mismatch paradigm between host and pathogen, which formed the basis for his Southwood Prize winning paper. His current research spans the fields of ecology, disease, behaviour and reproduction, primarily on frogs and reptiles and he often integrates these under an applied conservation umbrella. He has conducted extensive work on the threats posed to the biota and ecosystems of northern Australia (especially guilds of the apex varanid predators) from the expanding distribution of the invasive toad, Rhinella marina and on the impacts of the amphibian chytrid disease throughout Australia and New Guinea. He is particularly interested in developing novel, modern approaches to mitigating impacts of seemingly unstoppable threatening processes (e.g. emerging diseases, invasive species) including through environmental mitigation, genome storage, assisted reproduction and de-extinction. He is passionate about conserving not only genetics and biodiversity, but also a belief that, for conservation to be most effective, it is important to understand and conserve ecological and evolutionary processes, such as behaviour, which are often neglected. Due to his passion for amphibians in particular, he recently completed a comprehensive field guide to the frogs of Australia of which he himself descried a new species from the genus Uperoleia.