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E Muths
Papers & Reports Effects of Snowpack, Temperature, and Disease on Demography in a Wild Population of Amphibians
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Authors: Muths E, Hossack BR, Grant EHC, Pilliod DS, Mosher BA | Date: 2020-06 | Outlet: Herpetologica | Format: .PDF
Understanding the demographic consequences of interactions among pathogens, hosts, and weather conditions is critical in determining how amphibian populations respond to disease and in identifying site-specific conservation actions that can be developed to bolster persistence of amphibian populations. We investigated population dynamics in Boreal Toads relative to abiotic (fall temperatures and snowpack) and biotic (the abundance of another anuran host and disease) characteristics of the local environment in Wyoming, USA. We used capture-recapture data and a multi-state model where state is treated as a hidden Markov process to incorporate disease state uncertainty and assess our a priori hypotheses. Our results indicate that snowpack during the coldest week of the winter is more influential to toad survival, disease transition probabilities, and the population-level prevalence of the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in the spring, than temperatures in the fall or the presence of another host. As hypothesized, apparent survival at low (i.e., <25 cm) snowpack (0.22 [CI: 0.15–0.31]) was lower than apparent survival at high snowpack (90.65 [CI: 0.50–0.78]). Our findings highlight the potential for local environmental factors, like snowpack, to influence disease and host persistence, and demonstrate the ecological complexity of disease effects on population demography in natural environments. This work further emphasizes the need for improved understanding of how climate change may influence the relationships among pathogens, hosts, and their environment for wild animal populations challenged by disease.
Papers & Reports Amphibian chytrid prevalence on boreal toads in SE Alaska and NW British Columbia: tests of habitat, life stages, and temporal trends
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Authors: Hossack BR, Adams MJ, Honeycutt RK, Belt JJ, Pyare S | Date: 2020 | Outlet: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 137:159-165
Tracking and understanding variation in pathogens such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
(Bd), the agent of amphibian chytridiomycosis, which has caused population declines
globally, is a priority for many land managers. However, relatively little sampling of amphibian
communities has occurred at high latitudes. We used skin swabs collected during 2005?2017 from
boreal toads Anaxyrus boreas (n = 248), in southeast Alaska (USA; primarily in and near Klondike
Gold Rush National Historical Park [KLGO]) and northwest British Columbia (Canada) to determine
how Bd prevalence varied across life stages, habitat characteristics, local species richness,
and time. Across all years, Bd prevalence peaked in June and was >3 times greater for adult toads
(37.5%) vs. juveniles and metamorphs (11.2%). Bd prevalence for toads in the KLGO area, where
other amphibian species are rare or absent, was highest from river habitats (55.0%), followed by
human-modified upland wetlands (32.3%) and natural upland wetlands (12.7%)—the same rankorder
these habitats are used for toad breeding. None of the 12 Columbia spotted frogs Rana
luteiventris or 2 wood frogs R. sylvatica from the study area tested Bd-positive, although all were
from an area of low host density where Bd has not been detected. Prevalence of Bd on toads in the
KLGO area decreased during 2005?2015. This trend from a largely single-species system may be
encouraging or concerning, depending on how Bd is affecting vital rates, and emphasizes the
need to understand effects of pathogens before translating disease prevalence into management
Papers & Reports Contrasting demographic responses of toad populations to regionally synchronous pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) dynamics
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Authors: Hossack BR, Russell RE, McCaffery R | Date: 2020 | Outlet: Biological Conservation 241: 108373
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a fungal pathogen that causes amphibian chytridiomycosis, has been implicated in population declines globally. To better understand how Bd affects survival and how threats vary spatially and temporally, we conducted long-term (range: 9–13 yrs) capture-recapture studies of boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas) from three similar communities in western Montana. We also estimated temporal and spatial variation in population-level Bd prevalence among populations and the potential role of co-occurring Columbia spotted frogs (Rana luteiventris) in driving infection dynamics. Hierarchical models that accounted for detection uncertainty revealed Bd reduced apparent survival in one population that declined, was unassociated with survival in one stationary population, and was associated with increased survival in one population that is near extirpation. Despite different effects of Bd on hosts, pathogen prevalence was similar and synchronous across the populations separated by 111 – 176 km. Variation in Bd prevalence was driven partly by seasonal temperatures, but opposite the direction expected. Bd prevalence also decreased sharply over time across all populations, unrelated to trends in temperature, boreal toad survival, or infection dynamics of co-occurring Columbia spotted frogs. Toad Bd prevalence increased when frog abundance was high, consistent with an amplification effect. However, Bd prevalence of toads decreased as Bd prevalence of spotted frogs increased, consistent with a dilution effect. Our results reveal surprising variation in responses to Bd and show pathogen prevalence is not predictive of survival or population risk, and they illustrate the complexity in understanding disease dynamics across multiple populations.

E Muths
Papers & Reports Highly variable rates of survival to metamorphosis in wild boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas)
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Authors: Crockett J, Bailey L, Muths E | Date: 2020-02 | Outlet: Population Ecology | Format: .PDF
Life history theory suggests that long-lived, pond-breeding amphibians should have low and highly variable early life-stage survival rates, but this theoretical expectation is often untested and the causes of variation are usually unknown. We evaluated the impact of hydroperiod, presence of a pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis [Bd]), presence of a potential predator (cutthroat trout Oncorhychus clarki stomias), and whether animals had been reintroduced into a site, on survival of early life stages of boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas). We used a multi-state mark-recapture framework to estimate survival of boreal toad embryos from egg to metamorphosis at four sites over five years. We found substantial spatial and temporal variation in survival to metamorphosis and documented some evidence that monthly tadpole survival was lower in sites with Bd, and without trout, and at permanent sites. Our results support theories of amphibian life history, aid in the management of this species of conservation concern, and contribute to our knowledge of the ecology of the species. Additionally, we present methodology that allows practitioners to account for different lengths of time between sampling periods when estimating survival probabilities and which is especially applicable to organisms with distinct biological stages.
Eastern newt ([I]Notophthalmus viridescens[/I]) on tree root
Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) on tree root
Brad M. Glorioso
Papers & Reports Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) not detected in an intensive survey of wild North American amphibians
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Authors: Waddle JH, Grear DA, Mosher BA, Campbell Grant EH, Adams MJ, Backlin AR, Barichivich WJ, Brand AB, Bucciarelli GM, Calhoun DL, Chestnut T, Davenport JM, Dietrich AE, Fisher RN, Glorioso BM, Halstead BJ, Hayes MP, Honeycutt RK, Hossack BR, Kleeman PM, Lemos-Espinal JA, Lorch JM, McCreary B, Muths E, Pearl CA, Richgels KLD, Robinson CW, Rowe JC, Sigafus BH, Stasiak I, Sweet S, Walls SC, Watkins-Colwell CJ, White CL, Williams LA, Winzeler ME | Date: 2020

E Muths
Papers & Reports Conservation decisions under pressure: lessons from an exercise in rapid response to wildlife disease
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Authors: S Canessa, A Spitzen-van der Sluijs, T Stark, BE Allen, PJ Bishop, M Bletz, CK Briggs, DR Daversa, MJ Gray, RA Griffiths, RN Harris, XA Harrison, JT Hoverman, P Jervis, E Muths, DH Olson, SJ Price, CL Richards-Zawacki, R Jacques, GM Rosa, BC Scheele, BR Schmidt, TWJ Garner | Date: 2019-12 | Outlet: Conservation Science and Practice | Format: .PDF
Novel outbreaks of emerging pathogens require rapid responses to enable successful mitigation. We simulated a one-day emergency meeting where experts were engaged to recommend mitigation strategies for a new outbreak of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in amphibians. Despite inevitable uncertainty, experts were able to suggest and discuss several possible strategies. However, their recommendations were undermined by imperfect definitions of the objectives and scope of management, a problem likely to arise in most real-world emergency situations. The exercise thus highlighted the importance of clearly defining the context, objectives, and spatial-temporal scale of mitigation decisions. Managers may feel under pressure to act immediately. However, an iterative process in which experts and managers cooperate to clarify objectives and uncertainties, while collecting more information and devising mitigation strategies, may be slightly more time consuming but ultimately lead to better outcomes.
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Authors: DiRenzo GV, Grant EHC | Outlet: Biological Conservation
One of the leading causes of global amphibian decline is emerging infectious disease. We summarize the disease ecology of four major emerging amphibian infectious agents: chytrids, ranaviruses, trematodes, and Perkinsea. We focus on recently developed quantitative advances that build on well-established ecological theories and aid in studying epizootic and enzootic disease dynamics. For example, we identify ecological and evolutionary selective forces that determine disease outcomes and transmission pathways by borrowing ideas from population and community ecology theory. We outline three topics of general interest in disease ecology: (i) the relationship between biodiversity and disease risk, (ii) individual, species, or environmental transmission heterogeneity, and (iii) pathogen coinfections. Finally, we identify specific knowledge gaps impeding the success of conservation-related decisions for disease mitigation and the future of amphibian conservation success.

E Muths
Papers & Reports A continuum of risk tolerance: Reintroductions of toads in the Rockies
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Authors: Muths E, Wright FB, Bailey LL | Outlet: book - Susan Walls | Format: .PDF
Success in reintroducing amphibians may be more context- than detail-dependent such that a slavish adherence to protocol may not foster success better than a more intuitive approach. We provide two reintroduction case studies for boreal toads where the approach was different, but where both resulted in gains in understanding, including first estimates of survival for boreal toads from a reintroduced population. Given the effects of disease on amphibian populations and the potential for disease to remain in a system after extirpation, there is a need to restructure reintroduction guidelines. Maintaining populations on the landscape through reintroductions provides an opportunity for the development of resistance and may facilitate species persistence into the future. But to be effective, care in understanding the context of the reintroduction and a re-envisioning of guidelines is necessary.

Papers & Reports Effect of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) on apparent survival of frogs and toads in the western USA
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Authors: Russell RE, Halstead BJ, Mosher BA, Muths E, Adams MJ, Grant EHC, Fisher RN, Kleeman PM, Backlin AR, Pearl CA, Honeycut RK, Hossack BR | Date: 2019-08 | Outlet: Biological Conservation | Format: .PDF
Despite increasing interest in determining the population-level effects of emerging infectious diseases on wildlife, estimating effects of disease on survival rates remains difficult. Even for a well-studied disease such as amphibian chytridiomycosis (caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis [Bd]), there are few estimates of how survival of wild hosts is affected. We applied hierarchical models to long-term capture-mark-recapture data (mean&#8239;=&#8239;10.6&#8239;yrs, range&#8239;=&#8239;6?15&#8239;yrs) from >5500 uniquely-marked individuals to estimate the effect of Bd on apparent survival of four threatened or endangered ranid frog species (Rana draytonii, R. muscosa, R. pretiosa, R. sierrae) at 14 study sites in California and Oregon (USA) and one bufonid toad (Anaxyrus boreas) at two study sites in Wyoming and Montana. Our models indicated that the presence of Bd on an individual reduced apparent survival of ranid frogs by ~6?15% depending on species and sex. The estimated difference between toads with and without Bd was 19% for the Montana population and 55% for the Wyoming population; however, the 95% Credible Interval of these estimates included zero. These results provide evidence for negative effects of Bd on survival in wild populations even in the absence of obvious die-offs. Determining what factors influence the magnitude of the effects of Bd on wildlife populations is an important next step toward identifying management actions. These estimates of Bd effects are important for understanding the extent and severity of disease, whether disease effects have changed over time, and for informing management actions.
Papers & Reports Identifying common decision problem elements for the management of emerging fungal diseases of wildlife
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Authors: Bernard RF, Grant EHC | Outlet: Society and Natural Resources
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) of wildlife have characteristics that make them difficult to manage, leading to reactive and often ineffective management strategies. Currently, two fungal pathogens, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), are causing declines in novel host species. To improve the application of management strategies to address the risk of these pathogens to North American wildlife, we queried wildlife managers about their concerns regarding managing populations of bats and amphibians potentially impacted by Pd and Bsal. Using these responses, we identified aspects of each decision problem that were shared across pathogens, regions and agencies ? and found similarities in decision problem elements for disease management. Reframing management problems as decisions can enable managers to identify similarities across EIDs, i.e. uncertainties within management actions, and improve reactive responses if proactive management is not possible. Such an approach recognizes context-specific constraints and identifies relevant uncertainties that must be reduced in developing a response.