Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011NJ277B

Assessment of the water-borne pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, in New Jersey amphibians and their habitat

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,175

Principal Investigators: Paola Dolcemascolo, Kirsten Monsen

Abstract: Amphibians are declining around the world, with an estimated one-third of species being currently threatened with extinction. In 2004, habitat loss was the major threat facing amphibians, followed by pollution. While habitat loss and pollution are both still significant problems, a water-borne fungal disease discovered in the late 1990s has been sweeping through populations on all continents that are home to amphibians. Drastic amphibian population declines and even extinctions have been ascribed to this fungus, known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd has recently been documented for the first time in New Jersey (Lake Wapalanne, Sussex County) by our lab and nothing is known about its ecology in the state. Studies in other locations and in the laboratory have shown that the impacts suffered from Bd are habitat and species-specific. Additionally, Bd has been shown to display seasonal and geographic patterns. The overarching aims of my thesis research project are to 1. relate abiotic factors (hydrology, habitat, temperature) to prevalence and intensity of Bd, and 2. determine species-specific patterns of susceptibility to Bd. With NJWRRI funds, I plan on using a molecular approach to begin systematically sampling sites throughout New Jersey (determined by the North American Amphibian Monitoring Project) in order to gain information on the prevalence of Bd and its relationship to water and air temperature. I anticipate finding specific patterns of Bd prevalence and intensity, and the recognition of these patterns will contribute to long-term monitoring and conservation of amphibians and their habitats in the state of New Jersey.