Experimental exposure indicates the amphibian chytrid pathogen poses low risk to New Zealand's threatened endemic frogs

Ohmer, M.E., Herbert, S.M., Speare, R., and Bishop, P.J. (2013) Experimental exposure indicates the amphibian chytrid pathogen poses low risk to New Zealand's threatened endemic frogs. Animal Conservation, 16 (4). pp. 422-429.

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Abstract

The spread of chytridiomycosis, an emerging infectious disease caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is one of many threats facing amphibians worldwide. Ascertaining the severity of this threat to particular amphibian species is necessary if managers are to prioritize conservation actions. In New Zealand, Bd has been detected on both threatened endemic (Leiopelma spp.) and widespread introduced (Litoria spp.) anuran species, but Le. archeyi, one of four native species, has demonstrated low susceptibility to chytridiomycosis in captivity. To determine potential impacts of Bd on New Zealand's native anuran fauna, we assessed the susceptibility of two native species, Le. pakeka and Le. hochstetteri, to chytridiomycosis. We exposed Bd-naive individuals to a virulent New Zealand isolate of Bd, and monitored infection status with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Both species demonstrated low susceptibility and all individuals cleared Bd infection (Le. hochstetteri by week 10, Le. pakeka by week 15). Furthermore, no frogs demonstrated clinical signs of chytridiomycosis. Since Le. archeyi has similarly demonstrated low susceptibility, this appears to be a genus-wide trend, which warrants further study of the mechanism of this response. These findings, in agreement with results from field surveys and analyses of skin peptide defenses, suggest that Bd poses a low risk to leiopelmatids. An investigative study of potential susceptibility to Bd, such as this one, can better equip managers to target imminent threats and focus conservation plans for at-risk amphibian fauna.

Item ID: 29381
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: amphibian declines, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, chytrid fungus, emerging infectious disease, susceptibility, Leiopelma
ISSN: 1469-1795
Funders: Fulbright Program, University of Otago (UO)
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2013 05:25
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960699 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation not elsewhere classified @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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