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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03631

    Emerging infectious diseases of amphibians in Poland: distribution and environmental drivers

    Gemma Palomar, Joanna Jakóbik, Jaime Bosch, Krzysztof Kolenda, Mikołaj Kaczmarski, Paulina Jośko, José V. Roces-Díaz, Przemysław Stachyra, Barbora Thumsová, Piotr Zieliński, Maciej Pabijan*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Emerging infectious diseases are a threat to biodiversity and have taken a large toll on amphibian populations worldwide. The chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal), and the iridovirus Ranavirus (Rv), are of concern as all have contributed to amphibian declines. In central and eastern Europe, their geographical and host distributions and main environmental drivers determining prevalence are poorly known. We screened over 1000 amphibians from natural and captive populations in Poland for the presence of Bd, Bsal and Rv. In wild amphibian populations, we found that Bd is widespread, present in 46 out of 115 sampled localities as well as two captive colonies, and relatively common with overall prevalence at 14.4% in 9 species. We found lower prevalence of Rv at 2.4%, present in 11 out of 92 sampling sites, with a taxonomic breadth of 8 different amphibian species. Bsal infection was not detected in any individuals. In natural populations, Pelophylax esculentus and Bombina variegata accounted for 75% of all Bd infections, suggesting a major role for these two species as pathogen reservoirs in central European freshwater habitats. General linear models showed that climatic as well as landscape features are associated with Bd infection in Poland. We found that higher average annual temperature constrains Bd infection, while landscapes with numerous water bodies or artificial elements (a surrogate for urbanization) increase the chances of infection. Our results show that a combination of climatic and landscape variables may drive regional and local pathogen emergence.