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Title: Citizen scientists monitor a deadly fungus threatening amphibian communities in northern coastal California, USA

Author: Pope, Karen L.; Wengert, Greta M.; Foley, Janet E.; Ashton, Donald T.; Botzler, Richard G.;

Date: 2016

Source: Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 52(3): 516-523

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Ecoclub youth and supervising family members conducted citizen science to assess regional prevalence and distribution of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) among amphibians at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) and Redwood National and State Parks (Parks), Humboldt County, California, US, May 2013 through December 2014. Using quantitative real-time PCR, 26 (17%) of 155 samples were positive for Bd. Positive samples occurred in four frog and toad species: foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii), northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora), Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla), and western toad (Anaxyrus [Bufo] boreas); no salamanders or anuran larvae were positive. Except for R. aurora, all infected anurans were first-time species reports for coastal northern California. At the Refuge, significantly fewer (6/71) postmetamorphic amphibians were positive compared to the Parks (20/69; P=0.0018). We assessed the association of being PCR-positive for Bd, season of sampling, and age of sampler (child, teen, or adult). The full model with season, species, and sampler age had the greatest support. Frogs tested in winter or spring were more likely to be positive than those tested in summer or fall; foothill yellow-legged frogs, northern red-legged frogs, and western toads were more likely to be positive than were Pacific chorus frogs; and the probability of being positive nearly doubled when a child (≤12 yr old) collected the sample compared to a teen or adult. Our results support other chytrid studies that found amphibians are more susceptible to Bd when temperatures are cool and that species differ in their susceptibility. The Ecoclub’s findings provide new information important to conservation of northern California’s coastal amphibians and demonstrate the value of involving children in citizen science.

Keywords: Amphibian disease, amphibian monitoring, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd, chytrid fungus, Northern California, youth citizen science

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Ecoclub Amphibian Group; Pope, Karen L.; Wengert, Greta M.; Foley, Janet E.; Ashton, Donald T.; Botzler, Richard G. 2016. Citizen scientists monitor a deadly fungus threatening amphibian communities in northern coastal California, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 52(3): 516-523.

 


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