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Steven M. Whitfield

Steven M. Whitfield
Zoo Miami · Conservation and Research Department

PhD, Biology, Florida International University

About

62
Publications
24,022
Reads
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1,982
Citations
Citations since 2017
40 Research Items
1520 Citations
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Additional affiliations
August 2013 - May 2015
Gonzaga University
Position
  • Lecturer
June 2011 - December 2013
University of South Dakota
Position
  • PostDoc Position
August 2002 - July 2011
Florida International University
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (62)
Article
Full-text available
Zoos and natural history museums are both collections-based institutions with important missions in biodiversity research and education. Animals in zoos are a repository and living record of the world's biodiversity, whereas natural history museums are a permanent historical record of snapshots of biodiversity in time. Surprisingly, despite signifi...
Article
Full-text available
We describe the life history of the faithful beauty moth, Composia fidelissima vagrans Bates (Erebidae: Arctiini), based on individuals from the Richmond pine rocklands, Miami, Florida (Miami-Dade County, USA). We describe the life stages descriptively and quantitatively, and characterize larval development, growth, and duration based on a series o...
Article
Full-text available
American Flamingos are among the most iconic-and rarest-of Florida's native birds. Though historical large flocks were decimated by hunting, small groups of flamingos of unknown origin persist in Florida today. Here, we report a satellite telemetry study of an American Flamingo in Florida Bay, Florida, USA, over a 22-month period. The flamingo used...
Article
Full-text available
Turtles have been identified as key dispersers of seeds in many ecosystems, however seed dispersal by turtles (chelonochory) has received far less attention than seed dispersal by birds or mammals. We assessed the role of gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus)—a keystone species—as potential seed dispersers by analyzing the seed composition of thei...
Article
Full-text available
Amphibians are globally threatened by emerging infectious diseases, and ranaviruses are among the most concerning pathogens to threaten species in the wild. We sampled for ranaviruses in wild amphibians at 8 sites in Costa Rica, spanning broad climatic zones and taxonomic associations. Seven of these sites are inhabited by highly threatened amphibi...
Article
Full-text available
Amphibians have declined around the world in recent years, in parallel with the emergence of an epidermal disease called chytridiomycosis, caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ( Bd ). This disease has been associated with mass mortality in amphibians worldwide, including in Costa Rica, and Bd is considered an important contri...
Article
The status of the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) in Florida has been misunderstood and controversial for nearly a century, leaving them without legal protection at state level in Florida or conservation planning for the entire United States. However, flamingo sightings in the early 2000s made biologists consider the origins and history of...
Article
Full-text available
Lambert et al . question our retrospective and holistic epidemiological assessment of the role of chytridiomycosis in amphibian declines. Their alternative assessment is narrow and provides an incomplete evaluation of evidence. Adopting this approach limits understanding of infectious disease impacts and hampers conservation efforts. We reaffirm th...
Article
Full-text available
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been associated with the severe declines and extinctions of amphibians in Costa Rica that primarily occurred during the 1980s and 1990s. However, the current impact of Bd infection on amphibian species in Costa Rica is unknown. We aimed to update the list of amphibian species in Costa Rica and evaluate the pr...
Article
Full-text available
The demise of amphibians? Rapid spread of disease is a hazard in our interconnected world. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was identified in amphibian populations about 20 years ago and has caused death and species extinction at a global scale. Scheele et al. found that the fungus has caused declines in amphibian populations every...
Article
Full-text available
Animal-associated microbiomes are integral to host health, yet key biotic and abiotic factors that shape host-associated microbial communities at the global scale remain poorly understood. We investigated global patterns in amphibian skin bacterial communities, incorporating samples from 2,349 individuals representing 205 amphibian species across a...
Article
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On 1858 h on 11 October 2017, we encountered a newly metamorphosed A. annae (~ 25mm SVL) being consumed by the ctenid spider Cuppienius coccineus
Article
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We encountered a newly metamorphosed A.annae(~25mmSVL) being consumed by the ctenid spider Cupiennius coccineus.
Article
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Amphibian skin is a suitable environment for rich communities of microorganisms, both beneficial and detrimental to the host. The amphibian cutaneous microbiota has been hypothesized to play an important role as symbionts, protecting their hosts against disease. Costa Rica has one of the most diverse assemblages of amphibians in the world and we kn...
Article
Full-text available
American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) are a cultural icon of Florida, USA, yet their status in Florida has been controversial for nearly a century. There is uncertainty regarding historical baselines and long-term trends in flamingo populations, whether flamingo nesting has occurred in Florida, and whether recent observations are wild birds or...
Article
Full-text available
Phytotelmata are microhabitats used for shelter by many anuran species. Understanding anuran-microhabitat relationship is important for their conservation as it could notably affect host-pathogen interactions (i.e. chytrid fungus-amphibians), and could help us to understand their habitat disturbance responses. Herein, we studied spatial and tempora...
Article
Full-text available
Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are subject to a variety of natural and anthropogenic stressors including habitat loss and degradation, chemical contaminants, over exploitation, and diseases (Rostal et al. 2014). Risk assessment and abatement is especially critical for this species because Gopher Tortoises are classified as a candidate speci...
Article
Full-text available
Human activities often replace native forests with warmer, modified habitats that represent novel thermal environments for biodiversity. Reducing biodiversity loss hinges upon identifying which species are most sensitive to the environmental conditions that result from habitat modification. Drawing on case studies and a meta-analysis, we examined w...
Chapter
Amphibians are important components of ecosystems worldwide and are already being negatively affected by contemporary rapid changes in climate. Climate strongly affects the distribution, abundance, and ecology of amphibian species. Changes in climate will have impacts on amphibian biodiversity that are not uniform across the globe. We highlight geo...
Article
Full-text available
Global amphibian biodiversity has declined dramatically in the past 4 decades, and many amphibian species have declined to near extinction as a result of emergence of the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). However, persistent or recovering populations of several amphibian species have recently been rediscovered, and such...
Article
Full-text available
Global amphibian declines and extinction events are occurring at an unprecedented rate. While several factors are responsible for declines and extinction, the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been cited as a major constituent in these events. While the effects of this chytrid fungus have been shown to cause broad scale popula...
Article
Full-text available
Central America hosts a diverse, unique, and imperiled amphibian fauna, and for decades Central America been a major epicenter of research into amphibian decline and conservation. In this critical and quantitative review, we synthesize current knowledge regarding amphibian decline and conservation in the seven countries that constitute Central Amer...
Article
Full-text available
The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has caused the greatest known wildlife pandemic, infecting over 500 amphibian species. It remains unclear why some host species decline from disease-related mortality whereas others persist. We introduce a conceptual model that predicts that infection risk in ectotherms will decrease as the di...
Article
Full-text available
Land-cover and climate change are both expected to alter species distributions and contribute to future biodiversity loss. However, the combined effects of land-cover and climate change on assemblages, especially at the landscape scale, remain understudied. Lowland tropical amphibians may be particularly susceptible to changes in land cover and cli...
Article
Amphibian populations are declining globally, and multiple anthropogenic stressors, including contamination by pesticides and shifting climates are driving these declines. Climate change may increase average temperatures or increase temperature variability, either of which may affect susceptibility of non-target organisms to contaminants. We conduc...
Article
Full-text available
to predict which species may be at the greatest risk at La Selva. Of the ten species sampled, four are at serious risk of lowland extirpation and three others might also be at risk under the highest predicted temperature-increase models. Forest floor lizards at La Selva have already experienced significant population declines over the past 40 years...
Article
The authors' reply: Ghose et al. [1] reported an array of acute toxicity tests using aquatic amphibian larvae of a single species, combined with meta-analysis techniques, to illustrate that pesticides commonly used in Costa Rica are understudied relative to pesticides commonly used in the United States. In a response to our paper, Weltje and Wheele...
Article
Full-text available
Loss of biodiversity within relatively pristine protected areas presents a major challenge for conservation. At La Selva Biological Station in the lowlands of Costa Rica, amphibians, reptiles, and understory birds have all declined over the past four decades, yet the factors contributing to these declines remain unclear. Here, we conduct two tests...
Article
Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, particularly in tropical regions where amphibian diversity is highest. Pollutants, including agricultural pesticides, have been identified as one potential contributor to declines, yet toxicological studies of tropical amphibians are very rare. This study assesses toxic effects on amphibians of ten com...
Article
Global amphibian declines have many corroborative causes and the use of pesticides in agriculture is a likely contributor. In places with high pesticide usage, such as Costa Rica, agrochemical pesticides may interact with other factors to contribute to rapid species losses. Classical ecotoxicological studies rarely address the effects of a pesticid...
Article
Full-text available
Amphibian populations are globally threatened by emerging infectious diseases, and 2 pathogens in particular are recognized as major threats: the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and ranaviruses. Here, we evaluated the prevalence of infection by Bd and ranavirus in an assemblage of frogs from a lowland wet forest in Cost...
Article
SummaryA pathogen of great significance to amphibian populations is the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). It has been demonstrated as causing recent epizootics in wild populations and is also widely found in captive animals. It is listed as a notifiable disease within the pet, bait and food trade because of its risk of introducti...
Article
The emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is implicated in widespread population declines, extirpations, and extinctions of amphibians throughout the world. In the Neotropics, most amphibian declines have occurred in cool mid- to high-elevation sites (> 400 m asl),...
Article
Full-text available
Background/Question/Methods Ranaviruses are globally widespread group of iridoviruses capable of causing mass mortality events in amphibian populations, and are acknowledged to be a significant threat to amphibian populations in many parts of the world. Central America hosts a diverse, unique, and highly threatened amphibian fauna, yet there has...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Lowland tropical habitats are among the warmest environments on a warming planet. Many ectotherms found in such climates are living close to the upper limits of their thermal tolerances. As climate warms further, such organisms must respond physiologically or behaviorally to increasing temperatures or suffer local extir...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, and declines are particularly severe in the New World tropics where amphibian diversity is among the highest on the planet. Exposure to environmental pollutants such as agricultural pesticides has been identified as one of the ultimate causes of decline, yet ecotoxicologica...
Article
Full-text available
Amphibian populations are declining even in pristine areas in many parts of the world, and in the Neotropics most such enigmatic amphibian declines have occurred in mid- to high-elevation sites. However, amphibian populations have also declined at La Selva Biological Station in the lowlands of Costa Rica, and similar declines in populations of liza...
Conference Paper
The emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is implicated in widespread population declines, extirpations, and extinctions of amphibians throughout the world. In the Neotropics, most amphibian declines have occurred in cool mid- to high-elevation sites (> 400 m asl),...
Article
Full-text available
Amphibians stand at the forefront of a global biodiversity crisis. More than one-third of amphibian species are globally threatened, and over 120 species have likely suffered global extinction since 1980. Most alarmingly, many rapid declines and extinctions are occurring in pristine sites lacking obvious adverse effects of human activities. The cau...
Article
Full-text available
Ontogenetic and seasonal variation in diet was examined for 11 species of insectivorous forest-floor frogs and lizards from a lowland wet forest in north-eastern Costa Rica. Specimens were collected systematically over an entire seasonal cycle and represented individuals of all sizes. Individual prey items were removed from stomachs of preserved sp...
Article
Full-text available
We assessed the importance of tree buttresses as a microhabitat for leaf-litter amphibians and reptiles in a tropical wet forest in Costa Rica by making comparisons of species richness and abundance between pairs of 4 × 4 m leaf-litter quadrats. One quadrat in each pair contained a central buttressed tree, and the other did not. Both abundance and...

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Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Gopher Tortoises are a threatened keystone species in the southeastern United States. The southernmost populations of Gopher Tortoises occur in natural areas of Miami-Dade County, and these populations are in the warmest and most urbanized part of the species' range. This project focuses on understanding ecology of gopher tortoises in far south Florida, and on developing evidence-based conservation strategies for mitigating impacts to tortoises from urbanization and climate change.
Project
This program utilizes research to correct the narrative that flamingos are native to the state of Florida and were largely extirpated from the state by 1900 due to being hunted for meat and feathers. It also seeks to confirm that many flamingos seen around the state of Florida are flamingos that are visiting from nearby colonies and not all escapees from private collections.