PS 80-72 - Coincident mass extirpation of neotropical amphibians with the emergence of a fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Friday, August 12, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Tina L. Cheng1, Sean M. Rovito2, David B. Wake2 and Vance T. Vredenburg3, (1)Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, (2)Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, (3)Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

Amphibians highlight the global biodiversity crisis because 40% of all amphibian species are currently in decline. Species have disappeared even in protected habitats (e.g., the enigmatic extinction of the golden toad, Bufo periglenes, from Costa Rica). The emergence of a fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been implicated in a number of declines that have occurred in the last decade, but few studies have been able to test retroactively whether Bd emergence was linked to earlier declines and extinctions. We describe a noninvasive PCR sampling technique that detects Bd in formalin-preserved museum specimens and use this technique to examine major amphibian decline events in southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.


A pattern of Bd emergence coincident with decline at decline localities is revealedthe absence of Bd over multiple years at all localities followed by the concurrent emergence of Bd in various species at each locality during a period of population decline. The geographical and chronological emergence of Bd at these localities also indicates a southbound spread from southern Mexico in the early 1970s to western Guatemala in the 1980s/1990s and to Monteverde, Costa Rica by 1987. We find evidence of a historical Bd epidemic wave” that began in Mexico and subsequently spread to Central America. We describe a technique that can be used to screen museum specimens from other amphibian decline sites around the world.

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