DAO 124:109-116 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03114

Spatial distribution of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in South American caecilians

Carolina Lambertini1,*, C. Guilherme Becker2, Cecilia Bardier1,3, Domingos da Silva Leite4, Luís Felipe Toledo

1Laboratório de História Natural de Anfíbios Brasileiros (LaHNAB), Departamento de Biologia Animal, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo 13083-862, Brazil
2Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, São Paulo 13506-900, Brazil
3Laboratorio de Sistemática e Historia Natural de Vertebrados, Instituto de Ecología y Ciencias ambientales, Universidad de la República, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay
4Departamento de Genética, Evolução e Bioagentes, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo 13083-862, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The amphibian-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is linked to population declines in anurans and salamanders globally. To date, however, few studies have attempted to screen Bd in live caecilians; Bd- positive caecilians have only been reported in Africa and French Guiana. Here, we performed a retrospective survey of museum preserved specimens to (1) describe spatial patterns of Bd infection in Gymnophiona across South America and (2) test whether areas of low climatic suitability for Bd in anurans predict Bd spatial epidemiology in caecilians. We used quantitative PCR to detect Bd in preserved caecilians collected over a 109 yr period, and performed autologistic regressions to test the effect of bioclimatic metrics of temperature and precipitation, vegetation density, and elevation on the likelihood of Bd occurrence. We detected an overall Bd prevalence of 12.4%, with positive samples spanning the Uruguayan savanna, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, and the Amazon basin. Our autologistic models detected a strong effect of macroclimate, a weaker effect of vegetation density, and no effect of elevation on the likelihood of Bd occurrence. Although most of our Bd-positive records overlapped with reported areas of high climatic suitability for the fungus in the Neotropics, many of our new Bd-positive samples extend far into areas of poor suitability for Bd in anurans. Our results highlight an important gap in the study of amphibian chytridiomycosis: the potential negative impact of Bd on Neotropical caecilians and the hypothetical role of caecilians as Bd reservoirs.


KEY WORDS: Chytrid infection dynamics · Gymnophiona · Life history · Environmental variables · Museum specimens


Full text in pdf format
Supplementary material 
Cite this article as: Lambertini C, Becker CG, Bardier C, da Silva Leite D, Toledo LF (2017) Spatial distribution of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in South American caecilians. Dis Aquat Org 124:109-116. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03114

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -