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    Description

    The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, has been associated with declines and extinctions of montane amphibians worldwide. To gain insight into factors affecting its distribution and prevalence we focus on the amphibian community of the Klamath Mountains in northwest California. The Cascades frog (Rana cascadae), one of the most common amphibians in these mountains, experienced increased mortality as a result of Bd exposure in laboratory trials and has experienced recent, dramatic declines in other parts of California. We surveyed 112 sites in the Klamaths, all of which supported R. cascadae between 1999 and 2002, for amphibians and Bd to (1) determine the distribution of Bd, (2) evaluate changes in the distribution of R. cascadae, and (3) assess associations between potential biotic and abiotic drivers and Bd infection. Bd was widely distributed in the Klamath Mountains – we detected the pathogen at 64% of sites. R. cascadae was found at 79% of sites, and was often infected with Bd. These results suggest that Bd has not caused dramatic declines in R. cascadae in the Klamaths in recent years. Subadult R. cascadae had a higher Bd prevalence than other R. cascadae life stages (subadults: 36%, adults: 25%, metamorphs: 4%, larvae: 1%), and while the probability of infection decreased over the season for adults, it did not for subadults, suggesting that subadults may be more vulnerable to chytridiomycosis than other R. cascadae life stages. Bd prevalence in R. cascadae was highest early in the season at high-elevation sites, which may indicate that populations inhabiting high elevation sites may have a greater risk of being affected by chytridiomycosis. Three other common amphibian species also tested positive for Bd: Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla), western toad (Anaxyrus boreas), and rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa).

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    Citation

    Piovia-Scott, Jonah; Pope, Karen L.; Lawler, Sharon P.; Cole, Esther M.; Foley, Janet E. 2011. Factors related to the distribution and prevalence of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dentrobatidis in Rana cascadae and other amphibians in the Klamath Mountains. Biological Conservation. 144: 2913-2921.

    Keywords

    Chytridiomycosis, Taricha granulosa, Anaxyrus boreas, Pseudacris regilla, Generalized linear mixed model

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