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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 140:73-78 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03493

NOTE
Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in immature eastern hellbenders Cryptobranchus alleganiensis from North Carolina, USA

Lauren Diaz1,*, Obed Hernandez-Gomez2, Shem D. Unger3, Lori A. Williams4, Catherine M. Bodinof Jachowski1

1Clemson University, Dept. of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson, SC 29634, USA
2Dominican University of California, Dept. of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA
3Wingate University, Dept. of Biology, Wingate, NC 28174, USA
4North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Asheville, NC 28801, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been detected in wild hellbender Cryptobranchus alleganiensis populations, with rare instances of chytridiomycosis and Bd-induced mortality. To date, Bd surveillance in hellbender populations has been disproportionately focused on adult age classes. A lingering question is whether Bd might contribute to hellbender declines through disproportionate negative effects on immature age classes. The objective of this study was to quantify Bd prevalence and load in immature hellbenders in western North Carolina, USA. We conducted field surveys during 2018 and 2019 and collected 88 skin swabs from 84 hellbenders spanning 3 age classes. Bd was detected on 11% of individuals, including 8 larvae and 1 juvenile. We did not detect symptoms of chytridiomycosis or a decline in body condition in Bd-positive hellbenders. Load varied from approximately 1-153 zoospore equivalents for the 9 Bd-positive hellbenders and was not associated with size class of the individual. While hellbenders appeared to be abundant in each survey reach, more work is needed to determine whether Bd may increase the vulnerability of immature hellbenders to anthropogenic stressors.


KEY WORDS: Chytrid · Hellbender · Amphibian diseases · Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis


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Cite this article as: Diaz L, Hernandez-Gomez O, Unger SD, Williams LA, Bodinof Jachowski CM (2020) Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in immature eastern hellbenders Cryptobranchus alleganiensis from North Carolina, USA. Dis Aquat Org 140:73-78. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03493

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