How Does Chytrid Infection Vary Among Habitats? The Case of Litoria wilcoxii (Anura, Hylidae) in SE Queensland, Australia
Most analyses dealing with the geographical distribution of the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) have been performed on large geographical scales and data on more localized distribution of the chytrid within catchments are scarce. In this study, we compare the prevalence and intensity of infection of chytrid within and outside rainforest habitats at five independent catchments in southeast Queensland. In each catchment, we sampled adult Litoria wilcoxii along two transects on the same stream: one in forested areas, and the other in open nearby farmland. We analyzed swabs using quantitative PCR techniques. Male frogs were in higher densities in open habitats compared with the nearby forested areas. Infected male frogs were found in all catchments surveyed; however, prevalence of B. dendrobatidis in adult males was higher in the forested habitats than in the open habitats in four of the catchments. There was no significant difference in intensity of infection between forested and open habitats. For adult females and juveniles, sample sizes were not high enough for comparisons. Our results suggest that habitat influences chytrid prevalence and open areas may provide refuge from chytrid-induced population declines.
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