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Pathogen Dynamics in an Invasive Frog Compared to Native Species

Brenda Rivera, Katrina Cook, Kimberly Andrews, Matthew S. Atkinson, Anna E. Savage
EcoHealth 2019 v.16 no.2 pp. 222-234
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Eleutherodactylus, Hyla, Iridovirus, Rana, Ranavirus, autumn, coasts, emerging diseases, frogs, fungi, indigenous species, invasive species, islands, monitoring, pathogens, polymerase chain reaction, population dynamics, rain, surveys, wildlife, Georgia
Emerging infectious diseases threaten the survival of wildlife populations and species around the world. In particular, amphibians are experiencing population declines and species extinctions primarily in response to two pathogens, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and the iridovirus Ranavirus (Rv). Here, we use field surveys and quantitative (q)PCR to compare infection intensity and prevalence of Bd and Rv across species and seasons on Jekyll Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, USA. We collected oral and skin swabs for 1 year from four anuran species and three families, including two native hylids (Hyla cinerea and Hyla squirella), a native ranid (Rana sphenocephala), and the invasive rain frog Eleutherodactylus planirostris. Bd infection dynamics did not vary significantly over sampling months, but Rv prevalence and intensity were significantly higher in fall 2014 compared to spring 2015. Additionally, Rv prevalence and intensity were significantly higher in E. planirostris than in the other three species. Our study highlights the potential role of invasive amphibians as drivers of disease dynamics and demonstrates the importance of pathogen surveillance across multiple time periods and species to accurately capture the infectious disease landscape.