Dr Robert Puschendorf

Dr Robert Puschendorf

Lecturer in Conservation Biology

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Robert can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Tropical biology
  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Amphibians


Lecturer in Conservation Biology


Lecturer in Conservation Biology

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Research Council (2010-2013). JamesCook University, Queensland. Australia.

Ph.D (2009) James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland.

M.Sc. (2005) University of Costa Rica. San Pedro, SanJosé, Costa Rica.

B.Sc Hons (1998) EARTH University, Limón, Costa Rica. 

Roles on external bodies



Teaching interests

I am the programme lead for Conservation Biology.

I also lead the following modules:

  • BIOL135 Introduction to Conservation Biology
  • BIOL219 Ecology field course
  • BIOL308 Applied Conservation Biology
I also teach in:
  • ANIM5008 - Conservation Ecology and Society
  • BIO014 - Issues in Biology
  • BIOL119Z - Introduction to Biology
  • BIOL123Z - Field Biology
  • BIOL129Z - Professional Development in Biological Sciences 1
  • BIOL130Z - Biological Sciences Field Biology
  • BIOL132Z - Ecology and the Diversity of Life
  • BIOL134Z - Introduction to Animal Behaviour and Welfare
  • BIOL135Z - Introduction to Conservation Biology
  • BIOL136Z - Behaviour and Ecology Field Biology
  • BIOL137Z - Introduction to Zoology
  • BIOL219Z - Ecology Field Course
  • BIOL225Z- Professional Development in Biological Sciences 2
  • BIOL232Z - Comparative Zoology
  • BIOL234Z - Methods in Biology
  • BIOL307 - Advanced Skills and Concepts, GIS podule
  • BIOL307Z - Advanced Skills and Concepts
  • BIOL308 - Applied Conservation Biology
  • BIOL308Z - Applied Conservation Biology
  • BIOL310 - Global Change Biology
  • BIOL310Z - Global Change Biology
  • ENVS309 Biodiversity Management in Tropical Regions



Research interests

My research interests surround the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the emerging infectious diseases and climate change on biodiversity loss.

Recently I have focused on the importance of environmental conditions in the frequency and likelihood of frog disease outbreaks, and the impacts on populations across different environmental gradients. Interestingly and significantly, this work has uncovered a pattern of dry forests as environmental refugia from disease driven amphibian extinctions, which is consistent across continents; in Costa Rica and tropical Australia.



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Alvarado-Rybak M, Lepe-Lopez M, Peñafiel-Ricaurte A, Valenzuela-Sánchez A, Valdivia C, Mardones FO, Bacigalupe LD, Puschendorf R, Cunningham AA & Azat C (2021) 'Bioclimatic and anthropogenic variables shape the occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis over a large latitudinal gradient' Scientific Reports 11, (1) , DOI Open access
Sutton L, Anderson D, Franco M, McClure C, Miranda E, Vargas H, Vargas González J & Puschendorf R (2020) 'Geographic range estimates and environmental requirements for the harpy eagle derived from spatial models of current and past distributio' Ecology and Evolution 11, (1) 481-497 Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Wynne FJ, Puschendorf R, Knight ME & Price SJ (2020) 'Choice of molecular assay determines ranavirus detection probability and inferences about prevalence and occurrence' Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 141, 139-147 , DOI Open access
Schmidt K, Richards S, Pearson RG, Alford RA & Puschendorf R (2019) 'Seasonal, annual and decadal change in tadpole populations in tropical Australian streams' Amphibia-Reptilia 40, (4) 447-459 , DOI Open access
Alanazi AD, Puschendorf R, Alyousif MS, Al-Khalifa MS, Alharbi SA, AL-Shehri ZS, Said AE, Alanazi IO, AL-Mohammed HI & Alraey YA (2019) 'Molecular Detection of Leishmania spp. in Skin and Blood of Stray Dogs from Endemic Areas of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Saudi Arabia' Iranian Journal of Parasitology 14, (2) 231-239 Author Site , DOI Open access
Price SJ, Leung WTM, Owen CJ, Puschendorf R, Sergeant C, Cunningham AA, Balloux F, Garner TWJ & Nichols RA (2019) 'Effects of historic and projected climate change on the range and impacts of an emerging wildlife disease' Global Change Biology , DOI Open access
Puschendorf R, Wallace M, Chavarría MM, Crawford A, Wynne F, Knight M, Janzen D, Hallwachs D, Palmer C & Price S (2019) 'Cryptic diversity and ranavirus infection of a critically endangered Neotropical frog before and after population collapse' Animal Conservation , DOI Open access
Cryer J, Wynne F, Price S & Puschendorf R (2019) 'Cryptic diversity in Lithobates warszewitschii (Amphibia, Anura, Ranidae)' ZooKeys 838, , DOI Open access
Bodden V & Puschendorf R (2019) 'Morphological divergence and reduced ectoparasite prevalence in an introduced population of a Caribbean anole' Journal of Zoology , DOI Open access
Bodden V & Puschendorf R (2019) 'Morphological divergence and reduced ectoparasite prevalence in an introduced population of a Caribbean anole' Journal of Zoology , DOI Open access
Schmidt K, Pearson RG, Alford RA & Puschendorf R (2019) 'Tadpole species have variable roles in litter breakdown, sediment removal, and nutrient cycling in a tropical stream' Freshwater Science , DOI
Sutton L & Puschendorf R (2018) 'Climatic niche of the Saker Falcon Falco cherrug: predicted new areas to direct population surveys in Central Asia' IBIS: The International Journal of Avian Science , DOI Open access
ALanazi AD, Abdullah S, Helps C, Wall R, Puschendorf R, ALHarbi SA, Abdel-Shafy S & Shaapan RM (2018) 'Tick-Borne Pathogens in Ticks and Blood Samples Collected from Camels in Riyadh Province, Saudi Arabia' International Journal of Zoological Research 14, (1) 30-36 , DOI Open access
Alanazi AD, Puschendorf R, Salim B, Alyousif MS, Alanazi IO & Al-Shehri HR (2018) 'Molecular detection of equine trypanosomiasis in the Riyadh Province of Saudi Arabia' Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 30, (6) Author Site , DOI Open access
Alanazi A, Al-Mohamed H, Alysousif M, Puschendorf R & Abdel-Shafy S (2018) 'Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) Infesting Domestic and Wild Mammalians on the Riyadh Province, Saudi Arabia' Journal of Entomology , DOI Open access
Puschendorf R, Voyles & J (2017) 'Tropidechis carinatus (Rough-scaled Snake) and Pseudechis poryphryriacus (Red-bellied Black Snake). Predation/ Diet' Herpetological Review 48, (1) 221-222 Open access
Puschendorf R, Todd EV & Gardner MG (2017) 'Characterisation of microsatellites for Litoria nannotis (Amphibia : Hylidae), an endangered waterfall frog endemic to the Australian Wet Tropics' Australian Journal of Zoology Open access
Puschendorf R & Chaves G (2016) 'BOA CONSTRICTOR (Common Boa). REPRODUCTION / COURTSHIP' Herpetological Review Open access
Puschendorf R & Chaves G (2016) 'DERMOPHIS GLANDULOSUS (Glandular Caecilian) DIET' The Herpetological Bulletin 126, 31-31 Open access
Grogan LF, Phillott AD, Scheele BC, Berger L, Cashins SD, Bell SC, Puschendorf R & Skerratt LF (2016) 'Endemicity of chytridiomycosis features pathogen overdispersion' Journal of Animal Ecology 85, (3) 806-816 , DOI Open access
Puschendorf R & Chaves G (2016) 'Boa constrictor (Common Boa). Reproduction / Courtship' Herpetological Review 47, (4)
Langwig KE, Voyles J, Wilber MQ, Frick WF, Murray KA, Bolker BM, Collins JP, Cheng TL, Fisher MC & Hoyt JR (2015) 'Context-dependent conservation responses to emerging wildlife diseases' Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13, (4) 195-202 Author Site , DOI
Kubicki B, Salazar S & Puschendorf R (2015) 'A new species of glassfrog, genus Hyalinobatrachium (Anura: Centrolenidae), from the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica' Zootaxa 3920, (1) 69-84 Author Site , DOI
Zumbado-Ulate H, Bolaños F, Gutiérrez-Espeleta G & Puschendorf R (2014) 'Extremely low prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in frog populations from neotropical dry forest of Costa Rica supports the existence of a climatic refuge from disease' Ecohealth 11, (4) 593-602 Author Site , DOI
Minteer BA, Collins JP & Puschendorf R (2014) 'Specimen collection: Plan for the future Response' SCIENCE 344, (6186) 816-816 Author Site , DOI
Minteer BA, Collins JP, Love KE & Puschendorf R (2014) 'Ecology. Avoiding (re)extinction' Science 344, (6181) 260-261 Author Site , DOI
Voyles J, Kilpatrick AM, Collins J, Fisher M, Frick W, McCallum H, Willis CR, Blehert D, Murray K & Puschendorf R (2014) 'Moving Beyond Too Little, Too Late: Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases in Wild Populations Requires International Policy and Partnerships' EcoHealth 1-4 Author Site , DOI Open access
Phillips BL & Puschendorf R (2013) 'Do pathogens become more virulent as they spread? Evidence from the amphibian declines in Central America' Proc Biol Sci 280, (1766) Author Site , DOI
Puschendorf R, Hodgson L, Alford RA, Skerratt LF & VanDerWal J (2013) 'Underestimated ranges and overlooked refuges from amphibian chytridiomycosis' Diversiy and Distributions 19, (8) , DOI
García-Rodríguez A, Chaves G, Benavides-Varela C & Puschendorf R (2012) 'Where are the survivors? Tracking relictual populations of endangered frogs in Costa Rica' Diversity and Distributions 18, (2) 204-212 Author Site , DOI
Phillips BL, Puschendorf R, Vanderwal J & Alford RA (2012) 'There is no evidence for a temporal link between pathogen arrival and frog extinctions in north-eastern Australia' PLoS One 7, (12) Author Site , DOI Open access
Puschendorf R, Hoskin CJ, Cashins SD, McDonald K, Skerratt LF, Vanderwal J & Alford RA (2011) 'Environmental refuge from disease-driven amphibian extinction' Conserv Biol 25, (5) 956-964 Author Site , DOI
Woodhams DC, Bosch J, Briggs CJ, Cashins S, Davis LR, Lauer A, Muths E, Puschendorf R, Schmidt BR & Sheafor B (2011) 'Mitigating amphibian disease: strategies to maintain wild populations and control chytridiomycosis' Front Zool 8, (1) Author Site , DOI Open access
Murray KA, Retallick RWR, Puschendorf R, Skerratt LF, Rosauer D, McCallum HI, Berger L, Speare R & VanDerWal J (2011) 'Assessing spatial patterns of disease risk to biodiversity: implications for the management of the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis' Journal of Applied Ecology 48, (1) 163-173 Author Site , DOI
Murray KA, Retallick RWR, Puschendorf R, Skerratt LF, Rosauer D, McCallum HI, Berger L, Speare R & VanDerWal J (2011) 'Issues with modelling the current and future distribution of invasive pathogens' Journal of applied ecology 48, 177-180
Januchowski-Hartley SR, Pearson RG, Puschendorf R & Rayner T (2011) 'Fresh waters and fish diversity: distribution, protection and disturbance in tropical Australia' PLoS One 6, (10) Author Site , DOI Open access
Daskin JH, Alford RA & Puschendorf R (2011) 'Short-term exposure to warm microhabitats could explain amphibian persistence with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis' PLoS One 6, (10) Author Site , DOI Open access
Murray K, Retallick R, McDonald KR, Mendez D, Aplin K, Kirkpatrick P, Berger L, Hunter D, Hines HB & Campbell R (2010) 'The distribution and host range of the pandemic disease chytridiomycosis in Australia, spanning surveys from 1956-2007: Ecological Archives E091-108' Ecology 91, 1557-1558
Puschendorf R, Carnaval AC, VanDerWal J, Zumbado-Ulate H, Chaves G, Bolaños F & Alford RA (2009) 'Distribution models for the amphibian chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Costa Rica: proposing climatic refuges as a conservation tool' Diversity and Distributions 15, (3) 401-408 Author Site , DOI
Voyles J, Cashins SD, Rosenblum EB & Puschendorf R (2009) 'Preserving pathogens for wildlife conservation: a case for action on amphibian declines' Oryx 43, 527-529
Pounds JA, Bustamante MR, Coloma LA, Consuegra JA, Fogden MPL, Foster PN, La Marca E, Masters KL, Merino-Viteri A & Puschendorf R (2007) 'Global warming and amphibian losses; The proximate cause of frog declines? (Reply)' Nature 447, (7144) E5-E6 , DOI
Zumbado-Ulate H, Puschendorf R & Chavarría MM (2007) 'Eleutherodactylus ranoides (NCN). Distribution. Eleutherodactylus ranoides (NCN). Distribución' Herpetological Review. 38, 184-185
Pounds JA, Carnaval AC, Puschendorf R, Haddad CFB & Masters KL (2006) 'Responding to amphibian loss' Science 314, (5805) 1541-1542 Author Site , DOI
Puschendorf R, Bolaños F & Chaves G (2006) 'The amphibian chytrid fungus along an altitudinal transect before the first reported declines in Costa Rica' Biological Conservation 132, (1) 136-142 Author Site , DOI
Puschendorf R, Castañeda F & McCranie JR (2006) 'Chytridiomycosis in Wild Frogs from Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras' EcoHealth 3, (3) 178-181 , DOI
Puschendorf R & Bolaños F (2006) 'Detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Eleutherodactylus fitzingeri: effects of skin sample location and histologic stain' J Wildl Dis 42, (2) 301-306 Author Site , DOI
Pounds JA, Bustamante MR, Coloma LA, Consuegra JA, Fogden MPL, Foster PN, La Marca E, Masters KL, Merino-Viteri A & Puschendorf R (2006) 'Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming' Nature 439, (7073) 161-167 Author Site , DOI
Carnaval AD, Puschendorf R, Peixoto O, Verdade V & Rodrigues M (2006) 'Amphibian Chytrid Fungus Broadly Distributed in the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest' EcoHealth 3, (1) 41-48 Author Site , DOI
La Marca E, Lips KR, Lötters S, Puschendorf R, Ibáñez R, Rueda-Almonacid JV, Schulte R, Marty C, Castro F & Manzanilla-Puppo J (2005) 'Catastrophic Population Declines and Extinctions in Neotropical Harlequin Frogs (Bufonidae: Atelopus)1' Biotropica 37, (2) 190-201 Author Site , DOI
Puschendorf R, Chaves-Cordero GA, Crawford AJ & Brooks DR (2005) 'Eleutherodactylus ranoides (NCN). Dry forest population, refuge from decline?. Eleutherodactylus ranoides (NCN). Población del bosque seco, refugio en disminución?' Herpetological Review. 36, 53-53
Pounds JA & Puschendorf R (2004) 'Clouded futures' Nature 427, (6970) 107-109 , DOI
Pounds JA & Puschendorf R (2004) 'Ecology: clouded futures' Nature 427, (6970) 107-109 Author Site , DOI
Puschendorf R, Kubicki B, Ryan M & Vaughan C (2004) 'Cochranella albomaculata (NCN)' Herpetological Review 35, 52-52
Puschendorf R (2003) 'Atelopus varius (Harlequin Frog) fungal infection. Atelopus varius (Rana arlequín) infección fungosa' Herpetological Review. 34, 355-355
Minteer BA, Collins JP & Puschendorf R (2014) 'Specimen collection: an essential tool--response' Science 344, (6186) Author Site , DOI