, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 41-48
Date: 03 Feb 2006

Amphibian Chytrid Fungus Broadly Distributed in the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest

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Abstract

To investigate the occurrence of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Brazil, we conducted histological screenings of 96 preserved specimens of anurans collected at 10 sites in the Atlantic rain forest. Data show this fungus to be widely distributed. Infected specimens included Colostethus olfersioides (Dendrobatidae), Bokermannohyla gouveai and Hypsiboas freicanecae (Hylidae), as well as Thoropa miliaris and Crossodactylus caramaschii (Leptodactylidae), extending the area of B. dendrobatidis occurrence in Brazil approximately 1,600 km N, 200 km S, and 270 km E. The altitudinal range of the chytrid is broad, spanning from less than 100 m (Estação Ecológica Juréia-Itatins, Reserva Biológica do Tinguá) to about 2,400 m (Parque Nacional do Itatiaia). An infection record dating to 1981 roughly coincides with the time of the first observations of amphibian declines in the country. Widespread occurrence of B. dendrobatidis in the Atlantic Forest adds to the challenge of conserving an already endangered biome given the potential risk of further local biodiversity loss. Further research is needed to understand how environmental and genetic factors relate to chytridiomycosis in leading to or preventing local die-offs. Protected sites at mid and high elevations may be particularly threatened, while lowland populations may be functioning as reservoirs. Conservation efforts should also involve monitoring studies and habitat protection.