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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Distribution of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans in wild and captive amphibian populations in Estonia and Latvia

    Linda Saare*, Adele Laasmaa, Sten Anslan, Riinu Rannap, Leho Tedersoo

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Pathogenic chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal) cause infections that have become primary drivers of amphibian biodiversity loss. While globally widespread, the distribution margins of neither Bd nor Bsal have been determined and the presence of these pathogens have probably gone unnoticed in many areas, especially in the northern part of Eurasia. To better understand the presence and distribution of both pathogens in the northern temperate and boreal forest biomes, 243 individuals were sampled from eight native amphibian species across Estonia. Additionally, 68 amphibians were sampled from captive collections in Estonia and Latvia. Pathogen infection was assessed using metabarcoding of the ITS2 marker. No positive matches for Bsal infection were found. Bd was detected in 13 specimens, three of which were sampled at the Riga Zoo (with prevalence 5.2%) and 10 in natural environments in Estonia (3.3%). The infected wild individuals belonged to six amphibian species and were detected throughout the mainland of Estonia, but not on islands. Prevalence of infection with Bd ranged between 3.1 and 12.5% among native species. In addition, we found molecular evidence for a potentially new sister species to Bd in nature. Although the outbreaks of chytridiomycosis have never been observed in Estonia, it cannot be excluded that the dynamics of local amphibian populations are affected by Bd infections. Therefore, further work, including capture-mark-recapture studies and long-term monitoring, are required to clarify the impact of Bd on amphibians in Northern Europe.