Title

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and the Collapse of Anuran Species Richness and Abundance in the Upper Manu National Park, Southeastern Peru

Comments

Published online in Conservation Biology, November 5, 2010 by the Society for Conservation Biology. Print edition in press.

Abstract

Amphibians are declining worldwide, but these declines have been particularly dramatic in tropical mountains, where high endemism and vulnerability to an introduced fungal pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is associated with amphibian extinctions. We surveyed frogs in the Peruvian Andes in montane forests along a steep elevational gradient (1200-3700 m). We used visual encounter surveys to sample stream-dwelling and arboreal species and leaf-litter plots to sample terrestrial-breeding species. We compared species richness and abundance among the wet seasons of 1999, 2008, and 2009. Despite similar sampling effort among years, the number of species (46 in 1999) declined by 47% between 1999 and 2008 and by 38% between 1999 and 2009. When we combined the number of species we found in 2008 and 2009, the decline from 1999 was 36%. Declines of stream-dwelling and arboreal species (a reduction in species richness of 55%) were much greater than declines of terrestrial-breeding species (reduction of 20% in 2008 and 24% in 2009). Similarly, abundances of stream-dwelling and arboreal frogs were lower in the combined 2008-2009 period than in 1999, whereas densities of frogs in leaf-litter plots did not differ among survey years. These declines may be associated with the infection of frogs with Bd. B. dendrobatidis prevalence correlated significantly with the proportion of species that were absent from the 2008 and 2009 surveys along the elevational gradient. Our results suggest Bd may have arrived at the site between 1999 and 2007, which is consistent with the hypothesis that this pathogen is spreading in epidemic waves along the Andean cordilleras. Our results also indicate a rapid decline of frog species richness and abundance in our study area, a national park that contains many endemic amphibian species and is high in amphibian species richness.

Disciplines

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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