Year of Publication

2018

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Forestry and Natural Resources

First Advisor

Dr. Steven J. Price

Abstract

Pathogenic fungi are increasingly associated with epidemics in wildlife populations and represent a significant threat to global biodiversity. Snake fungal disease is an emerging disease caused by the fungus, Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, and appears to be widespread in the eastern United States. Yet an evaluation of field diagnostics, and an understanding of the population-level consequences of the disease, are lacking. First, I evaluated the use of clinical signs to predict the presence of O. ophiodiicola across season and snake habitat affiliation (aquatic or terrestrial) and I compared two sampling methods to see if collection method impacts PCR result. Overall, snakes with clinical signs had a higher probability of testing positive regardless of season or habitat association. However, terrestrial snakes had a lower overall probability of testing positive for O. ophiodiicola compared to aquatic snakes. I found no significant difference between sampling methods. Second, I used Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) telemetry, and multistate capture-mark-recapture modelling to determine if SFD affects the short-term survival, movement, and behavior of wild snakes. I found no difference in short-term survival for snakes with SFD. Snakes with SFD spend more time surface-active and have lower permanent emigration and temporary immigration rates than snakes without SFD.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2018.213

Available for download on Monday, June 01, 2020

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