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The Chytrid Fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is Widespread Among Cuban Amphibians

Cádiz, Antonio, Reytor, Mey Ling, Díaz, Luis M., Chestnut, Tara, Burns, John A., Amato, George
EcoHealth 2019 v.16 no.1 pp. 128-140
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Eleutherodactylus, aquatic environment, aquatic habitat, biogeography, frogs, fungi, highlands, pathogens, risk assessment, surveys, toads, Cuba
The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a generalist amphibian pathogen responsible for chytridiomycosis. It was documented for the first time in Cuba in 2007, the apparent cause of the decline in one species of toad. In a recent survey, Bd was reported only for the highlands of Central Cuba. In the present study, we reexamined the geographic distribution and level of impact of Bd in Cuba by conducting an island-wide sampling in 10 localities and collecting skin swabs from 18 species and 28 environmental samples. We report detection of Bd in 60% of sampled sites and in 58% of sampled taxa. We show that Bd is associated with riparian, arboreal and terrestrial species, and it was estimated to occur in approximately 30% of the aquatic habitats we sampled. In addition, we confirmed that a dying individual of the species Eleutherodactylus casparii was severely infected with Bd. We also rise concern about the endanger toad Peltophryne longinasus and about three species of endemic riparian frogs that were not detected during our surveys. This study demonstrates that this pathogen is widespread throughout Cuba and provides relevant evidence to advance our understanding of its detection in amphibians and the aquatic environment in Cuba and about the occurrence of Bd in species with different ecologies. We provide valuable baseline information for Bd risk assessment and decision-making processes to mitigate its negative impact on Cuban amphibians.