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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Wetland cohesion is associated with increased probability of infection by the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

    Katherine A. Hulting, Samuel D. Mason, Craig M. Story, Gregory S. Keller*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) poses a substantial threat to amphibian populations. Understanding the landscape conditions that facilitate Bd transmission and persistence is crucial for predicting Bd trends in amphibian populations. Here, we investigated the interactions between land use, wetland connectivity, and Bd occurrence and infection intensity. In northeastern Massachusetts, we sampled Pseudacris crucifer, Lithobates sylvaticus, Lithobates clamitans, and Lithobates pipiens from 24 sites. We found an overall 30.6% Bd prevalence at our sites, with prevalence differing among species. Bd occurrence increased with wetland-patch cohesion, potentially due to microclimate shifts from decreased forest or changes in host movement. Bd infection intensity was not mediated by landscape context. Overall, our results highlight the importance of landscape structure for Bd dynamics, suggesting that certain landscapes may facilitate transmission and harbor Bd more than others. To mitigate the impacts of Bd on amphibian populations, conservation efforts should account for interactions between Bd and landscape variables.