Chytridiomycosis and Seasonal Mortality of Tropical Stream-Associated Frogs 15 Years after Introduction of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
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Assessing the effects of diseases on wildlife populations can be difficult in the absence of observed mortalities, but it is crucial for threat assessment and conservation. We performed an intensive capture-mark-recapture study across seasons and years to investigate the effect of chytridiomycosis on demographics in 2 populations of the threatened common mist frog (Litoria rheocola) in the lowland wet tropics of Queensland, Australia. Infection prevalence was the best predictor for apparent survival probability in adult males and varied widely with season (0-65%). Infection prevalence was highest in winter months when monthly survival probabilities were low (approximately 70%). Populations at both sites exhibited very low annual survival probabilities (12-15%) but high recruitment (71-91%), which resulted in population growth rates that fluctuated seasonally. Our results suggest that even in the absence of observed mortalities and continued declines, and despite host-pathogen co-existence for multiple host generations over almost 2 decades, chytridiomycosis continues to have substantial seasonally fluctuating population-level effects on amphibian survival, which necessitates increased recruitment for population persistence. Similarly infected populations may thus be under continued threat from chytridiomycosis which may render them vulnerable to other threatening processes, particularly those affecting recruitment success.
© 2013 Society for Conservation Biology. Publisher by Wiley-Blackwell. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The definitive version is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
Conservation and Biodiversity