DAO 111:51-60 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02760

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection dynamics vary seasonally in upstate New York, USA

Melissa A. Lenker1,2,*, Anna E. Savage1,3, C. Guilherme Becker1, David Rodriguez1, Kelly R. Zamudio

1Cornell University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2Present address: McGill University, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
3Present address: Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20008, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a major cause of worldwide amphibian declines and extinctions. Although several studies indicate that Bd prevalence and infection intensity vary seasonally, temporal variation of Bd at high-latitude sites, such as the northeastern USA, is still poorly characterized. We screened amphibians for Bd monthly at 2 study sites in New York State from April to October 2011 and used quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to detect and quantify temporal variability in Bd infection prevalence and intensity. We found pronounced seasonal variation in both Bd infection prevalence and intensity at the community level, and our data indicate that this pattern is due to a few species (Lithobates catesbeianus, L. clamitans, and Notophthalmus viridescens) that drive temporal variability in disease dynamics. Amphibian body mass and sex were significant predictors of infection intensity but not infection prevalence. Understanding the temporal dynamics of Bd host-pathogen interactions provides important insight into regional, seasonal, and host-specific determinants of disease outbreaks. Further, our study elucidates the most relevant and informative timing for Bd surveys in temperate amphibian assemblages. Seasonal variation of infection dynamics suggests that Bd surveys from different sampling time points are not comparable, and summer surveys to evaluate chytridiomycosis may significantly underestimate Bd prevalence and intensity, leading to false conclusions about the severity of chytridiomycosis-induced amphibian mortality and population decline.

KEY WORDS: Chytrid · Fungus · Chytridiomycosis · Seasonal variation · Lithobates · Notophthalmus · Amphibian

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Cite this article as: Lenker MA, Savage AE, Becker CG, Rodriguez D, Zamudio KR (2014) Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection dynamics vary seasonally in upstate New York, USA. Dis Aquat Org 111:51-60. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02760

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