High Prevalence of the Amphibian Chytrid Pathogen in Gabon
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Amphibian chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that is implicated in the worldwide decline and extinction of amphibians. Africa has been proposed as a potential source for the global expansion of Bd, yet the distribution of Bd across the continent remains largely unexplored. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), we screened for the presence of Bd in 166 adult anurans from two national parks in Gabon (Monts de Cristal and Ivindo). Bd was detected in 20 of the 42 species and was present at all three sites surveyed (two in Monts de Cristal, and one in Ivindo) with high prevalence (19.6%–36.0%). Both national parks were Bd-positive at all elevations and across habitat types, though no dead or dying frogs were encountered. To our knowledge, this study presents the first evidence of Bd in Gabon and the first record of infection for 19 of the 20 species that were Bd-positive. Documenting the distribution and virulence of Bd across Africa will be essential for understanding the dynamics of amphibian chytridiomycosis across the globe.
Keywordsamphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis chytridiomycosis Gabon
We thank the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CENAREST) and Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN) for research permits, the National Park Directors H. Allogho and J. Okouyi for kind assistance, and the Direction de la Faune et de la Chasse for export permits. For logistical support, we thank the Wildlife Conservation Society Gabon Program (R. Calaque, C. Connolly, A. Whittaker, M. Hega, H. Koumakoudi, H. Deribe, G. Abitsi, M. Starkey, and M. Mengue). For assistance in the field, we thank P. Minko, T. Essone, and N. Emba-Yao. A. Longo, C.G. Becker, and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments that greatly improved the manuscript. This research was completed with financial support from the Explorer’s Club, Sigma Xi, Sigma Xi Cornell Chapter, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell to R.C.B., and the Herpetology Department at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University to R.C.B. and B.L.S.
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