Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection dynamics vary seasonally in upstate New York, USA

Melissa A. Lenker, Anna E. Savage, C. Guilherme Becker, David Rodriguez, Kelly R. Zamudio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a major cause of worldwide amphibian declines and extinctions. Although several studies indicate that Bd prevalence and infection intensity vary seasonally, temporal variation of Bd at high-latitude sites, such as the northeastern USA, is still poorly characterized. We screened amphibians for Bd monthly at 2 study sites in New York State from April to October 2011 and used quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to detect and quantify temporal variability in Bd infection prevalence and intensity. We found pronounced seasonal variation in both Bd infection prevalence and intensity at the community level, and our data indicate that this pattern is due to a few species (Lithobates catesbeianus, L. clamitans, and Notophthalmus viridescens) that drive temporal variability in disease dynamics. Amphibian body mass and sex were significant predictors of infection intensity but not infection prevalence. Understanding the temporal dynamics of Bd host-pathogen interactions provides important insight into regional, seasonal, and host-specific determinants of disease outbreaks. Further, our study elucidates the most relevant and informative timing for Bd surveys in temperate amphibian assemblages. Seasonal variation of infection dynamics suggests that Bd surveys from different sampling time points are not comparable, and summer surveys to evaluate chytridiomycosis may significantly underestimate Bd prevalence and intensity, leading to false conclusions about the severity of chytridiomycosis-induced amphibian mortality and population decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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