Landscape context influences chytrid fungus distribution in an endangered European amphibian

Scheele, Ben C, Driscoll, Don A, Fischer, J, Fletcher, A W, Hanspach, J, Vörös, J and Hartel, T 2015, Landscape context influences chytrid fungus distribution in an endangered European amphibian, Animal conservation, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 480-488, doi: 10.1111/acv.12199.

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Title Landscape context influences chytrid fungus distribution in an endangered European amphibian
Author(s) Scheele, Ben C
Driscoll, Don AORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A
Fischer, J
Fletcher, A W
Hanspach, J
Vörös, J
Hartel, T
Journal name Animal conservation
Volume number 18
Issue number 5
Start page 480
End page 488
Total pages 9
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015-10
ISSN 1367-9430
Keyword(s) Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
chytrid fungus
disease survelliance
land-use change
wildlife disease
yellow bellied toad
Summary Wildlife disease is an emerging threat to biodiversity. The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, has been documented in over 500 amphibian species globally. Understanding conditions under which amphibians are vulnerable to Bd is important for evaluating species risk and developing surveillance strategies. Here, we investigate the spatial distribution of Bd infection in the ephemeral pond-breeding yellow-bellied toad Bombina variegata, a species of high conservation concern in the European Union. We sampled 550 toads from 60 ponds in a traditional agricultural landscape in Southern Transylvania, Romania. Overall, Bd prevalence was low in B.variegata, but infected toads were widely dispersed through the landscape and were found in a quarter of all sampled ephemeral ponds. At the pond level, increased Bd occurrence was associated with short distances to perennial water sources and high forest cover. These findings suggest that perennial water sources may act as source habitat for Bd, with amphibian movements resulting in Bd spillover into ephemeral ponds. Increased Bd occurrence in ponds surrounded by high levels of forest cover is likely related to cooler and wetter conditions that are more favourable for Bd. Throughout the study landscape, patchy environmental suitability for Bd appears to restrict the pathogen to a subset of B.variegata habitat. Ephemeral ponds in open landscapes, without nearby perennial habitat, likely provide an environmental refuge from Bd, where the risk of infection is low. From a conservation perspective, these findings highlight the importance of maintaining ephemeral ponds in open landscapes, but these are currently threatened by land-use change.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/acv.12199
Field of Research 05 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
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