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Widespread occurrence of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the southeastern USA

January 1, 2008

From 1999 to 2006, we sampled >1200 amphibians for the fungal pathogen Batrachochytnum dendrobatidis (Bd) at 30 sites in the southeastern USA. Using histological techniques or PCR assays, we detected chytrid infection in 10 species of aquatic-breeding amphibians in 6 states. The prevalence of chytrid infection was 17.8% for samples of postmetamorphic amphibians examined using skin swab-PCR assays (n = 202 samples from 12 species at 4 sites). In this subset of samples, anurans had a much higher prevalence of infection than caudates (39.2% vs. 5.5%, respectively). Mean prevalence in ranid frogs was 40.7 %. The only infected salamanders were Notophthalmus viridescens at 3 sites. We found infected amphibians from late winter through late spring and in 1 autumn sample. Although we encountered moribund or dead amphibians at 9 sites, most mortality events were not attributed to Bd. Chytridiomycosis was established as the probable cause of illness or death in fewer than 10 individuals. Our observations suggest a pattern of widespread and subclinical infections. However, because most of the sites in our study were visited only once, we cannot dismiss the possibility that chytridiomycosis is adversely affecting some populations. Furthermore, although there is no evidence of chytrid-associated declines in our region, the presence of this pathogen is cause for concern given global climate change and other stressors. Although presence-absence surveys may still be needed for some taxa, such as bufonids, we recommend that future researchers focus on potential population-level effects at sites where Bd is now known to occur. ?? Inter-Research 2008.

Publication Year 2008
Title Widespread occurrence of the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the southeastern USA
DOI 10.3354/dao01974
Authors B.B. Rothermel, S.C. Walls, J.C. Mitchell, C. K. Dodd, L.K. Irwin, D. E. Green, Victoria M. Vazquez, James W. Petranka, Dirk J. Stevenson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
Index ID 70033248
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse