We conducted a health survey of amphibians in and adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to document current disease presence inside RMNP and identify disease outside RMNP with the potential to spread to the Park's amphibians. Amphibians from five sites within RMNP and seven sites within 60 km of Park boundaries were collected and examined. Necropsies (n - 238), virus isolation, bacterial and fungal cultures, and histological examinations were carried out on amphibian egg masses (outside RMNP/within RMNP: 26/22), larvae (30/42), imagos (recently metamorphosed individuals) (0/3) and adults (61/67) of five species. Marked infections by a pathogenic chytrid fungus (chyridiomycosis), Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, were detected in three species (Bufo boreas, Pseudacris maculata and Rana sylvatica) from three of five sites within RMNP and in one of three species (P. maculata) from three sites outside RMNP. Of the fully metamorphosed individuals tested (B. boreas, P. maculata and R. sylvatica), chytridiomycosis was found in 60 % (n = 3), 46 % (n = 37) and 54 % (n = 7), respectively. Chytridiomycosis was the principal lethal pathogenic infectious disease detected in three amphibian species within or adjacent to RMNP. Higher fungi were isolated from the cloaca and skin of all five amphibian species. Watermolds (Oomycetes) were isolated from amphibian eggs or skin of all five species. No evidence of Ranavirus was found in cultures and histological examinations of 176 and 142 amphibians, respectively. Fifteen genera of bacteria were identified in larval and just metamorphosed amphibians, and a potentially pathogenic lungworm, Rhabdias sp, was identified in 61.1 % (n = 11) of B. woodhousii outside RMNP, but in only 2 (15.4 %) R. sylvatica within the Park.
Additional Publication Details
Health evaluation of amphibians in and near Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado, USA)