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Incidence of a fungal pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in Southeastern national parks

Betsie Rothermel


Project description: The purpose of this study is to determine whether chytrid fungus is present in amphibians in southeastern national parks, specifically Congaree Swamp NP and Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. A recently identified chytridiomycete fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has been implicated as a primary or suspected cause of amphibian disease and subsequent population declines in many parts of the world, including Australia, Central America, and the western U.S. The presence of this fungus has been documented in at least 10 species of amphibians in North America, including bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and leopard frogs (R. sphenocephala) in the southeastern U.S. Although chytrid-associated declines have not been documented in this region, obtaining information on its prevalence is an important first step to assessing the threat this pathogen may pose to native amphibian communities. Because only a handful of sites and species in the Southeast have been surveyed to date, additional surveys in these two parks will yield valuable information for addressing the many unanswered questions regarding the origin, means of transport, and virulence of this fungal disease. For this study, we are primarily sampling ranid frogs because they 1) are abundant and relatively easy to sample; 2) have long larval periods and are semi-aquatic as adults, both of which might make them more susceptible to infection; and 3) are the species that have been found to be infected at other sites in the eastern U.S.

Funding: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service and SREL (Financial Assistance Award DE-FC09-96SR18-546 between the University of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Energy)

Collaborators: J. W. Gibbons, V. Vazquez


Congaree National Park

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