, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 421-427
Date: 30 Oct 2007

High Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Wild Populations of Lowland Leopard Frogs Rana yavapaiensis in Arizona

Abstract

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a fungus that can potentially lead to chytridiomycosis, an amphibian disease implicated in die-offs and population declines in many regions of the world. Winter field surveys in the last decade have documented die-offs in populations of the lowland leopard frog Rana yavapaiensis with chytridiomycosis. To test whether the fungus persists in host populations between episodes of observed host mortality, we quantified field-based Bd infection rates during nonwinter months. We used PCR to sample for the presence of Bd in live individuals from nine seemingly healthy populations of the lowland leopard frog as well as four of the American bullfrog R. catesbeiana (a putative vector for Bd) from Arizona. We found Bd in 10 of 13 sampled populations. The overall prevalence of Bd was 43% in lowland leopard frogs and 18% in American bullfrogs. Our results suggest that Bd is widespread in Arizona during nonwinter months and may become virulent only in winter in conjunction with other cofactors, or is now benign in these species. The absence of Bd from two populations associated with thermal springs (water >30°C), despite its presence in nearby ambient waters, suggests that these microhabitats represent refugia from Bd and chytridiomycosis.