Chytridiomycosis in Wild Frogs from Pico Bonito National Park, Honduras
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Almost half of the endemic species of Honduran amphibians have declining populations; some of which seem to be extinct since they have not been seen in several years in places where they were once common. Disappearances in pristine and protected habitats have occurred in several highland localities throughout the country. The highland amphibian fauna of Pico Bonito National Park declined sometime between 1989 and 1995. An amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been linked to similar declines in other neotropical regions. We checked 19 specimens for this disease, which were collected in the park in 2003. The only Rana maculata examined was found to be infected, as were three of the six Eleutherodactylus aurilegulus surveyed for the disease. Two of the infected E. aurilegulus were collected at 120 m elevation and showed strong infections. One of these was lethargic and did not react when it was collected in the field, although it was still alive. A complete necropsy could help determine if the B. dendrobatidis infection was responsible for these symptoms, and further research might show how susceptible E. aurilegulus is to this pathogen at low altitudes. More research should be focused on the distribution of this pathogen in Honduras, and on how this disease has affected the local amphibian fauna.