DAO 115:213-221 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02898

Patterns of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transmission between tadpoles in a high-elevation rainforest stream in tropical Australia

Mattias Hagman1,2,*, Ross A. Alford1

1College of Marine and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
2Present address: School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The highly virulent fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) poses a global threat to amphibian biodiversity. Streams and other water bodies are central habitats in the ecology of the disease, particularly in rainforests where they may transport and transmit the pathogen and harbor infected tadpoles that serve as reservoir hosts. We conducted an experiment using larval green-eyed tree frogs Litoria serrata in semi-natural streamside channels to test the hypotheses that (1) the fungus can be transmitted downstream in stream habitats and (2) infection affects tadpole growth and mouthpart loss. Our results showed that transmission can occur downstream in flowing water with no contact between individuals, that newly infected tadpoles suffered increased mouthpart loss in comparison with controls that were never infected and that infected tadpoles grew at reduced rates. Although recently infected tadpoles showed substantial loss of mouthparts, individuals with longstanding infections did not, suggesting that mouthparts may re-grow following initial loss. Our study suggests that any management efforts that can reduce the prevalence of infections in tadpoles may be particularly effective if applied in headwater areas, as their effects are likely to be felt downstream.


KEY WORDS: Amphibian declines · Infection · Larvae · Pathogen · Reservoir


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Cite this article as: Hagman M, Alford RA (2015) Patterns of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transmission between tadpoles in a high-elevation rainforest stream in tropical Australia. Dis Aquat Org 115:213-221. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02898

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