DAO 92:231-240 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02134

Contribution to the DAO Special 'Chytridiomycosis: An emerging disease'

Amphibian chytrid fungus and ranaviruses in the Northwest Territories, Canada

Danna M. Schock1,*, Gregory R. Ruthig2,8, James P. Collins2, Susan J. Kutz1, Suzanne Carrière3, Robert J. Gau3, Alasdair M. Veitch4, Nicholas C. Larter5, Douglas P. Tate6, Glen Guthrie7, Daniel G. Allaire5, Richard A. Popko4

1Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada
2School of Life Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-4501, USA
3Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, PO Box 1320, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9, Canada
4Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, PO Box 130, Norman Wells, Northwest Territories X0E 0V0, Canada
5Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, PO Box 240, Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories X0E 0N0, Canada
6Nahanni National Park Reserve, Parks Canada, 10002 – 102 St, Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories X0E 0N0, Canada
7Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, PO Box 134, Tulita, Northwest Territories X0E 0N0, Canada
8Present address: Department of Biology, Grinnell College, 1116 8th Ave, Grinnell, Iowa 50112-1690, USA

ABSTRACT: Pathogens can cause serious declines in host species, and knowing where pathogens associated with host declines occur facilitates understanding host-pathogen ecology. Suspected drivers of global amphibian declines include infectious diseases, with 2 pathogens in particular, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and ranaviruses, causing concern. We explored the host range and geographic distribution of Bd and ranaviruses in the Taiga Plains ecoregion of the Northwest Territories, Canada, in 2007 and 2008. Both pathogens were detected, greatly extending their known geographic distributions. Ranaviruses were widespread geographically, but found only in wood frogs. In contrast, Bd was found at a single site, but was detected in all 3 species of amphibians in the survey area (wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs, western toads). The presence of Bd in the Northwest Territories is not congruent with predicted distributions based on niche models, even though findings from other studies at northern latitudes are consistent with those same models. Unexpectedly, we also found evidence that swabs routinely used to collect samples for Bd screening detected fewer infections than toe clips. Our use and handling of the swabs was consistent with other studies, and the cause of the apparent lack of integrity of swabs is unknown. The ranaviruses detected in our study were confirmed to be Frog Virus 3 by sequence analysis of a diagnostic 500 bp region of the major capsid protein gene. It is unknown whether Bd or ranaviruses are recent arrivals to the Canadian north. However, the genetic analyses required to answer that question can inform larger debates about the origin of Bd in North America as well as the potential effects of climate change and industrial development on the distributions of these important amphibian pathogens.


KEY WORDS: Ranavirus · Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Amphibian declines · Rana sylvatica · Pseudacris maculata · Bufo boreas · Nahanni National Park Reserve · Taiga Plains


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Cite this article as: Schock DM, Ruthig GR, Collins JP, Kutz SJ and others (2010) Amphibian chytrid fungus and ranaviruses in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Dis Aquat Org 92:231-240. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02134

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