Student Research

Recent Emergence of The Fungal Pathogen Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis In Northern California Cascades Frogs (Rana Cascadae)

The pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been associated with global amphibian declines, but it is often difficult to discern the relative importance of Bd as a causal agent in declines that have already occurred. The recent development of retrospective analyses of museum specimens has allowed researchers to associate the timing of Bd arrival with the timing of past amphibian declines. Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae) have experienced dramatic declines in northern California, but it is not clear whether the onset of these declines corresponds to the arrival of Bd. We used quantitative real-time PCR assays of samples collected from museum specimens to determine historical Bd prevalence in the northern California range of R. cascadae. We detected Bd in 13 of 355 (3.7%) R. cascadae specimens collected between 1907 and 2003, with the first positive result from 1978. A Bayesian analysis suggested that Bd arrived in the region between 1973 and 1978, which corresponds well with the first observations of declines in the 1980s.

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