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High prevalence of the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) across multiple taxa and localities in the highlands of Ethiopia

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Surveys of the potentially lethal amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis - Bd) in Africa are patchy, especially in some regions of high species endemicity. We present results of the first Bd surveys of wild amphibians in Ethiopia, for two upland regions on either side of the Rift Valley: the Bale Mountains and the Kaffa region. Surveys were opportunistic so that robust interpretation of the data is limited. Utilizing diagnostic qPCR assays, 51 out of 120 frogs (14 species in 10 genera) tested positive for Bd at altitudes of 1,620–3,225 m, across all genera and species, and all but two localities. Prevalence was not significantly different between the two regions or two years (2008, 2009) sampled. Prevalence and parasite load was higher in species with aquatic tadpoles than those with terrestrial early life-history stages, but these differences were not significant. Impacts of Bd infection were not investigated, but no dead or dying frogs were found. This is the first report of Bd in Ethiopia, a country in which approximately 40% of its more than 60 species are endemic. Declines have occurred in some frog species in some localities in Ethiopia, and although habitat degradation is a likely cause in at least some places, further studies of Bd in Ethiopia are required to understand if it is a threat.
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Keywords: AFRICA; BALE MOUNTAINS; CONSERVATION; FROGS; HARENNA; KAFFA; LIFE HISTORY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2012

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