Prevalence and Genetic Diversity of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Central African Island and Continental Amphibian Communities
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The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infects hundreds of amphibian species and is implicated in global amphibian declines. Bd is comprised of several lineages that differ in pathogenicity, thus, identifying which Bd strains are present in a given amphibian community is essential for understanding host-pathogen dynamics. The presence of Bd has been confirmed in Central Africa, yet vast expanses of this region have not yet been surveyed for Bd prevalence, and the genetic diversity of Bd is largely unknown in this part of the world. Using retrospective surveys of museum specimens and contemporary field surveys, we estimated the prevalence of Bd in Central African island and continental amphibian assemblages, and genotyped strains of Bd present in each community. Our sampling of museum specimens included just a few individuals collected in the Gulf of Guinea archipelago prior to 1998, yet one of these individuals was Bd-positive indicating that the pathogen has been on Bioko Island since 1966. We detected Bd across all subsequent sample years in our study and found modest support for a relationship between host life history and Bd prevalence, a positive relationship between prevalence and host community species richness, and no significant relationship between elevation and prevalence. The Global Panzootic Lineage (Bd GPL) was present in all the island and continental amphibian communities we surveyed. Our results are consistent with a long-term and widespread distribution of Bd in amphibian communities of Gabon and the Gulf of Guinea archipelago.