DAO 118:113-127 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02965

Disease dynamics of red-spotted newts and their anuran prey in a montane pond community

Betsie B. Rothermel1,*, Debra L. Miller2,5, Emilie R. Travis1, Jessica L. Gonynor McGuire3,4, John B. Jensen4, Michael J. Yabsley3

1Archbold Biological Station, Venus, Florida 33960, USA
2Veterinary Diagnostic and Investigational Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Georgia, Tifton, Georgia 31793, USA
3Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA
4Nongame Conservation Section, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Forsyth, Georgia 31029, USA
5Present Address: Center for Wildlife Health, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Long-term monitoring of amphibians is needed to clarify population-level effects of ranaviruses (Rv) and the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). We investigated disease dynamics of co-occurring amphibian species and potential demographic consequences of Rv and Bd infections at a montane site in the Southern Appalachians, Georgia, USA. Our 3-yr study was unique in combining disease surveillance with intensive population monitoring at a site where both pathogens are present. We detected sub-clinical Bd infections in larval and adult red-spotted newts Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens, but found no effect of Bd on body condition of adult newts. Bd infections also occurred in larvae of 5 anuran species that bred in our fishless study pond, and we detected co-infections with Bd and Rv in adult newts and larval green frogs Lithobates clamitans. However, all mortality and clinical signs in adult newts and larval anurans were most consistent with ranaviral disease, including a die-off of larval wood frogs Lithobates sylvaticus in small fish ponds located near our main study pond. During 2 yr of drift fence monitoring, we documented high juvenile production in newts, green frogs and American bullfrogs L. catesbeianus, but saw no evidence of juvenile recruitment in wood frogs. Larvae of this susceptible species may have suffered high mortality in the presence of both Rv and predators. Our findings were generally consistent with results of Rv-exposure experiments and support the purported role of red-spotted newts, green frogs, and American bullfrogs as common reservoirs for Bd and/or Rv in permanent and semi-permanent wetlands.


KEY WORDS: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Ranavirus · Notophthalmus · Hyla · Lithobates · Mortality · Co‑infection


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Cite this article as: Rothermel BB, Miller DL, Travis ER, Gonynor McGuire JL, Jensen JB, Yabsley MJ (2016) Disease dynamics of red-spotted newts and their anuran prey in a montane pond community. Dis Aquat Org 118:113-127. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02965

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