Fatal Chytridiomycosis in the Tyrrhenian Painted Frog
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Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the causative agent of the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, is an important factor in the global decline of amphibians. Within Europe, animals that exhibit clinical signs of the disease have only been reported in Spain despite the pathogen’s wide, but patchy, distribution on the continent. Recently, another occurrence of chytridiomycosis was reported in Euproctus platycephalus, the Sardinian brook newt, on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, but without any evidence of fatal disease. We report further evidence of the emergence of Bd on Sardinia and the first evidence of lethal chytridiomycosis outside of Spain. Unusual mortalities of the Tyrrhenian painted frog (Discoglossus sardus) were found at three sites in the Limbara mountains of northern Sardinia. Molecular and histological screens of corpses, frogs, and tadpoles from these sites revealed infection with Bd. Infection and mortality occurred at locations that are unusual in terms of the published habitat requirements of the pathogen. Given the endemicity, the IUCN Red List status of the amphibian species on Sardinia, and the occurrence of infection and mortality caused by chytridiomycosis, there is serious reason for concern for the impact that disease emergence may have on the conservation of the amphibians of the island.
Keywordschytridiomycosis Discoglossus sardus Sardinia mortality
The authors thank the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, the IUCN, and the Societas Europaea Herpetologica for funding this project. J. Bielby was supported by a NERC studentship and T. Garner was supported by an RCUK Fellowship. Essential support in the field was provided by Marco Marrosu, Federico Monticone, Cecilia Fasso of the Ente Foreste della Sardegna, Campo Uomo, Sette Fratelli Mountains, Mr. Gianpiero Serra of the Ente Foreste della Sardegna, Limbara Nord Camp, Limbara Mountain, Mr. Nuccio Tucconi of the Ente Foreste della Sardegna, Monte Olia Camp and Alessio Sussarello of the Ente Foreste della Sardegna, Servizio territoriale di Tempio.
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