DAO prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03191

Amphibian chytrid infection is influenced by rainfall seasonality and water availability

Joice Ruggeri*, Sergio Potsch de Carvalho-e-Silva, Timothy Y. James, Luís Felipe Toledo

*Email: joice.ruggeri@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Amphibians suffer from a number of factors that make them the most threatened group of vertebrates. One threat is the fungal disease chytridiomycosis caused by the emerging pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which has rapidly spread and caused the loss of massive amphibian biodiversity worldwide. Recently, Bd was associated with a few amphibian population declines and extinctions in some areas of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. However, the mechanisms underlying such declines are not fully understood. Therefore, it is essential to improve our knowledge of abiotic factors that can possibly influence Bd prevalence and chytridiomycosis disease severity. Herein we tested the hypothesis that water availability (such as in perennial streams, where Bd is frequently present in larvae) and rainfall would increase the prevalence of Bd. To test this, we sampled frogs from six transects with different numbers of perennial waterbodies, and we report that the more water available in the area, the higher the probability of Bd infection on anurans. Also, we report that seasonality influenced both the Bd prevalence in the area and the intensity of infection in infected frogs. However, Bd prevalence was higher during the rainy months whereas the infection burden was lower. We suggest that Bd is likely spread during the summer, when most of anuran species gather near the water for spawning and when the rainfall overfills ephemeral wetlands. On the other hand, during the drier months, a higher infection burden may be explained by increased disease susceptibility.