Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Forestry (MF)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. John Cox

Abstract

Environmental and anthropogenic stressors negatively affect amphibians in a variety of ways, often increasing their vulnerability to pathogen infection and mortality. Sampling for the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) was conducted in order to: 1) determine the presence of chytrid infection in stream-associated plethodontid salamanders of southeastern Kentucky, and 2) evaluate differences in infection intensity between salamanders residing in intact forest streams, timber-harvested streams, and surface-mined streams. During 14 sampling sessions occurring between March, April and May of 2013, DNA samples from 306 individual salamanders within 8 species from the family Plethodontidae were collected; additional amphibians (i.e. frogs, newts) were opportunistically sampled when encountered. Approximately 2.1% of the salamanders and 50% of the frogs sampled from intact streams, 2.3% of the salamanders and 80% of the frogs sampled from the harvested streams, and none of the salamanders and 100% of the frogs sampled from the mined streams tested positive for Bd. No significant differences in occurrence of Bd or infection intensity were detected between the treatment sites (x2 = 0.59; p-value = 0.75), or between individuals of a species between different treatments (see tables). These findings are the first to demonstrate that Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is present in amphibians of eastern Kentucky.

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