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Chytrid infections exhibit historical spread and contemporary seasonality in a declining stream-breeding frog

January 31, 2024

Species with extensive geographical ranges pose special challenges to assessing drivers of wildlife disease, necessitating collaborative and large-scale analyses. The imperilled foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) inhabits a wide geographical range and variable conditions in rivers of California and Oregon (USA), and is considered threatened by the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). To assess drivers of Bd infections over time and space, we compiled over 2000 datapoints from R. boylii museum specimens (collected 1897–2005) and field samples (2005–2021) spanning 9° of latitude. We observed a south-to-north spread of Bd detections beginning in the 1940s and increase in prevalence from the 1940s to 1970s, coinciding with extirpation from southern latitudes. We detected eight high-prevalence geographical clusters through time that span the species' geographical range. Field-sampled male R. boylii exhibited the highest prevalence, and juveniles sampled in autumn exhibited the highest loads. Bd infection risk was highest in lower elevation rain-dominated watersheds, and with cool temperatures and low stream-flow conditions at the end of the dry season. Through a holistic assessment of relationships between infection risk, geographical context and time, we identify the locations and time periods where Bd mitigation and monitoring will be critical for conservation of this imperilled species.

Publication Year 2024
Title Chytrid infections exhibit historical spread and contemporary seasonality in a declining stream-breeding frog
DOI 10.1098/rsos.231270
Authors A.M. Belasen, R.A. Peek, A.J. Adams, I.D. Russell, M.E. De León, Michael J. Adams, J. Bettaso, K.G.H. Breedveld, A. Catenazzi, C.P. Dillingham, Daniel A. Grear, Brian J. Halstead, P.G. Johnson, Patrick M. Kleeman, M.S. Koo, C.W. Koppl, J.D. Lauder, G. Padgett-Flohr, J. Piovia-Scott, K.L. Pope, V. Vredenburg, M. Westphal, K. Wiseman, S.J. Kupferberg
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Royal Society Open Science
Index ID 70251529
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center; Western Ecological Research Center