Amphibian chytrid fungus and ranaviruses in the Northwest Territories, Canada

Danna M. Schock, Gregory R. Ruthig, James Collins, Susan J. Kutz, Suzanne Carrière, Robert J. Gau, Alasdair M. Veitch, Nicholas C. Larter, Douglas P. Tate, Glen Guthrie, Daniel G. Allaire, Richard A. Popko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Pathogens can cause serious declines in host species, and knowing where pathogens associated with host declines occur facilitates understanding host-pathogen ecology. Suspected drivers of global amphibian declines include infectious diseases, with 2 pathogens in particular, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and ranaviruses, causing concern. We explored the host range and geographic distribution of Bd and ranaviruses in the Taiga Plains ecoregion of the Northwest Territories, Canada, in 2007 and 2008. Both pathogens were detected, greatly extending their known geographic distributions. Ranaviruses were widespread geographically, but found only in wood frogs. In contrast, Bd was found at a single site, but was detected in all 3 species of amphibians in the survey area (wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs, western toads). The presence of Bd in the Northwest Territories is not congruent with predicted distributions based on niche models, even though findings from other studies at northern latitudes are consistent with those same models. Unexpectedly, we also found evidence that swabs routinely used to collect samples for Bd screening detected fewer infections than toe clips. Our use and handling of the swabs was consistent with other studies, and the cause of the apparent lack of integrity of swabs is unknown. The ranaviruses detected in our study were confirmed to be Frog Virus 3 by sequence analysis of a diagnostic 500 bp region of the major capsid protein gene. It is unknown whether Bd or ranaviruses are recent arrivals to the Canadian north. However, the genetic analyses required to answer that question can inform larger debates about the origin of Bd in North America as well as the potential effects of climate change and industrial development on the distributions of these important amphibian pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-240
Number of pages10
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Amphibian declines
  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
  • Bufo boreas
  • Nahanni national park reserve
  • Pseudacris maculata
  • Rana sylvatica
  • Ranavirus
  • Taiga Plains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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