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Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative

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Pesticide lab.
K. Jones (USGS) extracting a water sample for pesticide analysis at Pesticide Fate Research Laboratory. Photo by: R. Todd.

The collaborative design which joins wildlife biologists and hydrologists enables ARMI to ask the kinds of questions it does about the environmental variables that affect amphibians in a truly integrated manner. Understanding how water quality, quantity, or timing affects amphibians is a critical component of ARMI research.

A hydrologist is associated with each ARMI region and works with the ARMI PI to develop and implement research and monitoring projects. These collaborations enable ARMI to ask questions about how water quality (e.g., nutrients, agro-chemicals, acidification), water budgets (e.g., ground and surface water models), storm surge impacts, or other hydrologic conditions can affect amphibian life cycles, disease transport, or habitat quality.


Hydrologic Investigations
USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology program

ARMI Products on Water

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This is an ARMI Product. Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, Pesticides, and other Bioactive Contaminants in Water, Sediment, and Tissue from Rocky Mountain National Park, 2012-2013
Authors: Battaglin W, Bradley P, Iwanowicz L, Journey C, Blazer V | Date: 2018-06-05 | Outlet: Science of the Total Environment 643:651-673 | Format: .PDF
Pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, and other bioactive contaminants (BCs) are commonly detected in surface water and bed sediment in urban and suburban areas, but these contaminants are understudied in remote locations. In Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Colorado, USA, BCs may threaten the reproductive success and survival of native aquatic species, benthic communities, and pelagic food webs. In 2012-2013, 67 water, 57 sediment, 63 fish, 10 frog, and 12 quality-control samples (8 water and 4 sediment) were collected from 20 sites in RMNP. Samples were analyzed for 369 parameters including 149 pharmaceuticals, 22 hormones, 137 pesticides, and 61 other chemicals or conditions to provide a representative assessment of BC occurrence within RMNP. Results indicate that BCs were detected in water and/or sediment from both remote and more accessible locations in RMNP. The most commonly detected BCs in water were caffeine, camphor, para-cresol, and DEET; and the most commonly detected BCs in sediment were indole, 3-methyl-1H-indole, para-cresol, and 2,6-dimethyl-naphthalene. Some detected contaminants, including carbaryl, caffeine, and oxycodone, are clearly attributable to direct local human input, whereas others may be transported into the park atmospherically (e.g., atrazine) or have local natural sources (e.g., para-cresol). One or more pharmaceuticals were detected in at least 1 sample from 15 of 20 sites. Most of the 29 detected pharmaceuticals are excreted primarily in human urine, not feces. Elevated net estrogenicity was observed in 18% of water samples, and elevated vitellogenin in blood was observed in 12% of male trout, both evidence of potential endocrine disruption. Hormone concentrations in sediment tended to be greater than concentrations in water. Most BCs were observed at concentrations below those not expected to pose adverse effects to aquatic life. Results indicate that even in remote locations aquatic wildlife can be exposed to pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides, and other bioactive contaminants.

This is an ARMI Product. Host pathogen metapopulation dynamics suggest high elevation refugia for boreal toads
Authors: Mosher BA, Bailey LL, Muths E, Huyvaert KP | Date: 2018 | Outlet: Ecological Applications | Format: .PDF
Emerging infectious diseases are an increasingly common threat to wildlife. Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is an emerging infectious disease that has been linked to amphibian declines around the world. Few studies exist that explore amphibian-Bd dynamics at the landscape scale, limiting our ability to identify which factors are associated with variation in population susceptibility and to develop effective in situ disease management. Declines of boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) in the Southern Rocky Mountains are largely attributed to chytridiomycosis but variation exists in local extinction of boreal toads across this metapopulation. Using a large-scale historic dataset, we explored several potential factors influencing disease dynamics in the boreal toad-Bd system: geographic isolation of populations, amphibian community richness, elevational differences, and habitat permanence. We found evidence that boreal toad extinction risk was lowest at high elevations where temperatures may be sub-optimal for Bd growth and where small boreal toad populations may be below the threshold needed for efficient pathogen transmission. In addition, boreal toads were more likely to recolonize high elevation sites after local extinction, again suggesting that high elevations may provide refuge from disease for boreal toads. We illustrate a modeling framework that will be useful to natural resource managers striving to make decisions in amphibian-Bd systems.

BA Mosher  
This is an ARMI Product. Design- and model-based recommendations for detecting and quantifying an amphibian pathogen in environmental samples
Authors: Mosher BA, Huyvaert KP, Chestnut T, Kerby JL, Madison JD, Bailey LL | Date: 2017-12 | Outlet: Ecology and Evolution | Format: .PDF
Accurate pathogen detection is essential for developing management strategies to address emerging infectious diseases, an increasingly prominent threat to wildlife. Sampling for free-living pathogens outside of their hosts has benefits for inference and study efficiency, but is still uncommon. We used a laboratory experiment to evaluate the influences of pathogen concentration, water type, and qPCR inhibitors on the detection and quantification of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) using water filtration. We compared results pre- and post-inhibitor removal, and assessed inferential differences when single versus multiple samples were collected across space or time. We found that qPCR inhibition influenced both Bd detection and quantification in natural water samples, resulting in biased inferences about Bd occurrence and abundance. Biases in occurrence could be mitigated by collecting multiple samples in space or time, but biases in Bd quantification were persistent. Differences in Bd concentration resulted in variation in detection probability, indicating that occupancy modeling could be used to explore factors influencing heterogeneity in Bd abundance among samples, sites, or over time. Our work will influence the design of studies involving amphibian disease dynamics and studies utilizing environmental DNA (eDNA) to understand species distributions.

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