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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Low occurrence of ranavirus in the Prairie Pothole Region of Montana and North Dakota contrasts with prior surveys

    Brian J. Tornabene*, Erica J. Crespi, Bernardo A. Traversari, Kenzi M. Stemp, Creagh W. Breuner, Caren S. Goldberg, Blake R. Hossack

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Ranaviruses are emerging pathogens that have caused mortality events in amphibians worldwide. Despite the negative effects of ranaviruses on amphibian populations, monitoring efforts are still lacking in many areas, including in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North America. Some PPR wetlands in Montana and North Dakota have been contaminated by energy-related saline wastewaters (hereafter, wastewaters), and increased salinity has been linked with greater severity of ranavirus infections. In 2017, we tested tissues from larvae collected at seven wetlands that ranged in salinity from 26–4103 mg l–1 Cl. In 2019, we used environmental DNA (eDNA) to test for ranaviruses in 30 wetlands that ranged in salinity from 26–11754 mg l–1 Cl. A previous study (2013–2014) found that ranavirus-infected amphibians were common across North Dakota, including in some wetlands near our study area. Overall, only one larva tested positive for ranavirus infection and we did not detect ranavirus in any eDNA samples. There are several potential reasons why we found so little evidence of ranaviruses including low larval sample sizes, mismatch between sampling and disease occurrence, larger pore size of our eDNA filters, temporal variation in outbreaks, low host abundance, or low occurrence or prevalence of ranaviruses in the wetlands we sampled. We suggest future monitoring efforts be conducted to better understand the occurrence and prevalence of ranaviruses within the PPR.