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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03603

    Seasonal variation of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in a threatened anuran species from Uruguay

    Mariana Retuci Pontes*, Cecilia Bardier, Daniel Medina, Gisela Pereira, Carolina Lambertini, Luís Felipe Toledo

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Chytridiomycosis, an emergent infectious disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatids (Bd), is considered one of the drivers of the current amphibian biodiversity loss. To inform endangered species conservation efforts, it is essential to improve our knowledge about the abiotic and biotic factors that influence Bd infection dynamics in the wild. Here, we analyzed the variation of Bd infection in Melanophryniscus montevidensis, a threatened bufonid from Uruguay. We tested the influence of temperature, precipitation, season, and host population size on Bd prevalence and intensity. Additionally, considering Bd’s sub-lethal effects, we tested if these variables, potentially through their effect on Bd, also explain the variation in the host’s body condition. We determined a high Bd prevalence of 41% (100/241), and that population size influenced both Bd prevalence and infection intensity. We identified an effect of precipitation and season on Bd infection intensity and an effect of season on toad's body condition. In addition, we found a negative effect of infection intensity on body condition, and that while some toads cleared infection their body condition did not improve, suggesting a long-term cost. This is the first report on host population size as an important factor in Bd infection dynamics in a threatened anuran species, and seasonal demographic changes appear to play an important role in this dynamics. Finally, we highlight the need for monitoring Bd in this and other endangered amphibian populations, especially those within the genus Melanophryniscus, which includes several endangered and data deficient species in South America.