DAO 102:169-180 (2013)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02552

First survey for the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Connecticut (USA) finds widespread prevalence

Kathryn L. Richards-Hrdlicka1,*, Jonathan L. Richardson2, Leon Mohabir

1School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA
2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA
3Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut 06518, USA

ABSTRACT: The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is an emerging infectious fungal pathogen of amphibians and is linked to global population declines. Until now, there has only been 1 survey for the fungus in the northeastern USA, which focused primarily on northern New England. We tested for Bd in a large number of samples (916 individuals from 116 sites) collected throughout the state of Connecticut, representing 18 native amphibian species. In addition, 239 preserved wood frog Lithobates sylvaticus tadpoles from throughout the state were screened for the fungus. Bd presence was assessed in both the fresh field swabs and the preserved samples using a sensitive quantitative PCR assay. Our contemporary survey found widespread Bd prevalence throughout Connecticut, occurring in 14 species and in 28% of all sampled animals. No preserved L. sylvaticus specimens tested positive for the fungus. Two common species, bullfrogs R. catesbeiana and green frogs R. clamitans had particularly high infection rates (0.21-0.39 and 0.33-0.42, respectively), and given their wide distribution throughout the state, we suggest they may serve as sentinels for Bd occurrence in this region. Further analyses found that several other factors increase the likelihood of infection, including life stage, host sex, and host family. Within sites, ponds with ranids, especially green frogs, increased the likelihood of Bd prevalence. By studying Bd in populations not facing mass declines, the results from this study are an important contribution to our understanding of how some amphibian species and populations remain infected yet exhibit no signs of chytridiomycosis even when Bd is widely distributed.

KEY WORDS: Frog · Toad · Salamander · Chytridiomycosis · Emerging infectious disease · New England · qPCR · Lithobates catesbeiana · Lithobates clamitans

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Cite this article as: Richards-Hrdlicka KL, Richardson JL, Mohabir L (2013) First survey for the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Connecticut (USA) finds widespread prevalence. Dis Aquat Org 102:169-180

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