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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 140:209-218 (2020)  -  DOI:

Occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Sweden: higher infection prevalence in southern species

Sara Meurling1,*, Simon Kärvemo2, Niki Chondrelli1, Maria Cortazar Chinarro1, David Åhlen3, Lola Brookes4, Per Nyström5, Marika Stenberg5, Trenton W. J. Garner4, Jacob Höglund1, Anssi Laurila1

1Animal Ecology/ Department of Ecology and Genetics, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden
2Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Ulls väg 16, 75651 Uppsala, Sweden
3Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
4Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
5EkollAB, Majgatan 17b, 21565 Malmö, Sweden
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has caused worldwide declines in amphibian populations. While Bd is widespread in southern and central Europe, its occurrence and distribution in northernmost Europe is mostly unknown. We surveyed for Bd in breeding anurans in Sweden by sampling 1917 amphibians from 101 localities and 3 regions in Sweden (southern, northern and central). We found that Bd was widespread in southern and central Sweden, occurring in all 9 investigated species and in 45.5% of the 101 localities with an overall prevalence of 13.8%. No infected individuals were found in the 4 northern sites sampled. The records from central Sweden represent the northernmost records of Bd in Europe. While the proportion of sites positive for Bd was similar between the southern and central regions, prevalence was much higher in the southern region. This was because southern species with a distribution mainly restricted to southernmost Sweden had a higher prevalence than widespread generalist species. The nationally red-listed green toad Bufotes variabilis and the fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina had the highest prevalence (61.4 and 48.9%, respectively). Across species, Bd prevalence was strongly positively, correlated with water temperature at the start of egg laying. However, no individuals showing visual signs of chytridiomycosis were found in the field. These results indicate that Bd is widespread and common in southern and central Sweden with southern species, breeding in higher temperatures and with longer breeding periods, having higher prevalence. However, the impact of Bd on amphibian populations in northernmost Europe remains unknown.

KEY WORDS: Chytridiomycosis · Emerging infectious disease · Real-time PCR · Temperature tolerence

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Cite this article as: Meurling S, Kärvemo S, Chondrelli N, Cortazar Chinarro M and others (2020) Occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Sweden: higher infection prevalence in southern species. Dis Aquat Org 140:209-218.

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