Chytridiomycosis survey in wild and captive mexican amphibians. Ecohealth. 2008 5: 18-26
Mexico, a rich country in terms of amphibian diversity, hosts about 375 described species. Population declines have been documented for several species where it is evident that their habitat is being destroyed or modified. However, other species which inhabit pristine areas are declining as well. It has been suggested that the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
(B.d.) may be one of the causes of the enigmatic declines in Mexico. We surveyed a total of 45 localities, in 12 states across Mexico, examining a total of 360 specimens representing 14 genera and 30 species. We also examined 91 specimens of Ambystoma mexicanum
from a captive population in Mexico City as well as one Pachymedusa dacnicolor
obtained in a pet shop. We used a two-tiered technique to detect the pathogen. For wild-caught specimens, we utilized light microscopy to identify presence of B.d. sporangia in amphibian skin. Then, to verify the infection, we used a quantitative real-time PCR assay on collected skin sections which is specific for B.d. For captive animals, we used a nonlethal version of the real-time PCR technique. We found evidence of B.d. infection in 111 animals comprising 14 species in 13 localities. A large percentage (84%) of Ambystoma mexicanum
from the colony were infected with B.d. The two most highly infected individuals were the endangered Ambystoma mexicanum
, from a captive colony, and Pachymedusa dacnicolor
, purchased at a pet shop.
Presence of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in populations of the critically endangered frog Mannophryne olmonae in Tobago, West Indies. Ecohealth. 2008 5: 34-9
The emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis is prevalent in Central and South America, and has caused catastrophic declines of amphibian populations in the Neotropics. The responsible organism, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
, has been recorded on three West Indian islands, but the whole of the Caribbean region is predicted to offer a suitable environment for the disease. Monitoring the spread of chytridiomycosis is thus a priority in this region, which has exceptionally high levels of amphibian endemism. PCR analysis of 124 amphibian skin swabs in Tobago (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) demonstrated the presence of B. dendrobatidis
in three widely separated populations of the frog Mannophryne olmonae
, which is listed as Critically Endangered on the basis of recent population declines. Chytridiomycosis is presently endemic in this species, with a prevalence of about 20% and no associated clinical disease. Increased susceptibility to chytridiomycosis from climate change is unlikely in amphibian populations in Tobago, as this island does not have high montane environments, but remains a possibility in the sister island of Trinidad. Preventing the spread of chytridiomycosis within and between these and other Caribbean islands should be a major goal of practical conservation measures for amphibians in the region.