About

Professor Ross Alford is broadly interested in ecology, animal behaviour, conservation biology, and evolution. Most of his research is focused on the ecology, behaviour, and conservation biology of frogs and their larvae, although he and his postgraduate students and research associates also work on a variety of reptiles and on freshwater and marine invertebrates.

Since the early 1990s, he has been strongly involved in research aimed at understanding the problem of global amphibian declines and how to prevent and reverse them. This has included collaborative research in North and Central America, and extensive collaborations with many researchers throughout the world.

Much of his present research is focused on understanding the complex host-pathogen relationships between frogs and the amphibian chytrid fungus, and how it is modified by individual behaviour, immune responses, and the assemblage of other microbes inhabiting frog skin.

Interests
Research
  • Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Conservation Biology
  • Evolution
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Other research outputs
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 119+ research outputs authored by Empro Ross Alford from 1989 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Wildlife Society - University Student Grant

Do bacterial immune defences drive the recovery of threatened frog populations?

Indicative Funding
$1,500
Summary
Emerging infectious diseases are a growing problem for wildlife. One of these diseases, chytridiomycosis, has decimatedmany amphibian populations world-wide. Some populations have, however, recovered from chytridiomycosis outbreaks, and understanding the factors enabling their recovery will aid management efforts. Our project will examine the possibility that frogs have shifted their microbiomes to contain more anti-microbial species. These species may have played an important role in the recovery of frog populations.
Investigators
Donald McKnight, Kyall Zenger, Lin Schwarzkopf, Ross Alford and Deborah Bower (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Conservation; emerging infectious disease; chytridiomycosis; Amphibian; Evolution; microbiome

Equity Trustees - Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment

Do natural body temperature fluctuations help Wet Tropics frogs beat a deadly disease?

Indicative Funding
$7,500
Summary
Chytridiomycosis is a disease that wreaked havoc on native Wet Tropics frogs in recent decades. Some populations have since recovered but individuals remain infected. Wildlife diseases are dynamic and can change at the slightest ecological perturbation. To date, researchers lack a complete understanding of the ecological factors that could trigger new outbreaks of chytridiomycosis. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the fungus that causes chytridiomycosis, is a temperature-sensitive organism, and frog body temperatures influence infection probability. Although climate may profoundly influence future chytridiomycosis dynamics, the temperature envelope critical to understanding of Bd-host interactions is crudely defined. This project will address this research gap.
Investigators
Sasha Greenspan and Ross Alford (College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Chytridiomycosis; Thermal Ecology

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Understanding The Tipping Point Between Epidemic And Endemic Disease: Amphibian Chytridiomycosis As A Model System

Indicative Funding
$387,000 over 3 years
Summary
Amphibian chytridiomycosis is a major threat to Australian frog species. Environmental factors set a tipping point between coexistence with the pathogen and epidemic outbreaks leading to declines and extinctions. At present it coexists with many threatened species, but we do not understand the nature of the tipping point, so new epidemics could occur at any time as the environment changes. The tipping point is set by a combination of frog microenvironment selection, behaviour, and innate immune defences. Our project will produce a detailed understanding of how these interact, allowing us to develop and carry out preliminary tests of strategies for manipulating the tipping point to manage this threat to amphibians.
Investigators
Ross Alford, Lin Schwarzkopf and David Pike in collaboration with Robert Puschendorf (College of Science & Engineering, University of South Florida and University of Plymouth)
Keywords
Amphibian; Conservation; Rainforest
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • The Effects of Grazing on Arboreal Reptiles (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Thermal thresholds in the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Life Finds a Way: The Recovery of Frog Populations From a Chytridiomycosis Outbreak (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
Completed
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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