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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Urban environment and reservoir host species are associated with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection prevalence in the common toad

Karvemo, Simon; Laurila, Anssi; Hoglund, Jacob


Human-induced changes of the environment, including landscape alteration and habitat loss, may affect wildlife disease dynamics and have important ramifications for wildlife conservation. Amphibians are among the vertebrate taxa most threatened by anthropogenic habitat change. The emerging fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has caused extinctions and population declines in hundreds of anuran species globally. We studied how the urban landscape is associated with the prevalence of Bd infections by sampling 655 anurans of 3 species (mainly the common toad Bufo bufo) in 42 ponds surrounded by different amounts of urban habitat (defined as towns, cities or villages). We also examined the association between Bd infections and a potential reservoir host species (the moor frog Rana arvalis). We found that 38% of the sites were positive for Bd with an infection prevalence of 4.4%. The extent of urban landscape was negatively correlated with Bd infection prevalence. However, the positive association of Bd with the presence of the possible reservoir species was substantially stronger than the urban effects. The body condition index of B. bufo was negatively associated with Bd infection. This Bd effect was stronger than the negative effect of urban landscape on body condition. Our results suggest that urban environments in Sweden have a negative impact on Bd infections, while the presence of the reservoir species has a positive impact on Bd prevalence. Our study also highlights the potential importance of Bd infection on host fitness, especially in rural landscapes.


Amphibians; Chytrid; Disease transmission; Body condition; Scandinavia

Published in

Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
2019, Volume: 134, number: 1, pages: 33-42

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