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Open AccessArticle

Landscape Connectivity Limits the Predicted Impact of Fungal Pathogen Invasion

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Wildlife Health Ghent, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, B9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
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Lupinelaan 25, NL5582 CG Aalst, The Netherlands
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Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, Zoology Section, Ege University, TR-35100 İzmir, Turkey
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Department of Zoology and Marine Biology, School of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis, Ilissia, 15784 Athens, Greece
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Natural History Museum of Crete, School of Sciences and Engineering, University of Crete, Knossos Ave., 1409 Irakleio, Greece
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Molenweg 43, 6542PR Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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Department of Biogeography, Trier University, Universitätsring 15, D-54296 Trier, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Decease.
J. Fungi 2020, 6(4), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof6040205
Received: 3 September 2020 / Revised: 29 September 2020 / Accepted: 30 September 2020 / Published: 3 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycoses in Wildlife)
Infectious diseases are major drivers of biodiversity loss. The risk of fungal diseases to the survival of threatened animals in nature is determined by a complex interplay between host, pathogen and environment. We here predict the risk of invasion of populations of threatened Mediterranean salamanders of the genus Lyciasalamandra by the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans by combining field sampling and lab trials. In 494 samples across all seven species of Lyciasalamandra, B. salamandrivorans was found to be absent. Single exposure to a low (1000) number of fungal zoospores resulted in fast buildup of lethal infections in three L. helverseni. Thermal preference of the salamanders was well within the thermal envelope of the pathogen and body temperatures never exceeded the fungus’ thermal critical maximum, limiting the salamanders’ defense opportunities. The relatively low thermal host preference largely invalidates macroclimatic based habitat suitability predictions and, combined with current pathogen absence and high host densities, suggests a high probability of local salamander population declines upon invasion by B. salamandrivorans. However, the unfavorable landscape that shaped intraspecific host genetic diversity, lack of known alternative hosts and rapid host mortality after infection present barriers to further, natural pathogen dispersal between populations and thus species extinction. The risk of anthropogenic spread stresses the importance of biosecurity in amphibian habitats. View Full-Text
Keywords: Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans; salamander; Lyciasalamandra; thermal ecology; susceptibility Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans; salamander; Lyciasalamandra; thermal ecology; susceptibility
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Li, Z.; Martel, A.; Bogaerts, S.; Göçmen, B.; Pafilis, P.; Lymberakis, P.; Woeltjes, T.; Veith, M.; Pasmans, F. Landscape Connectivity Limits the Predicted Impact of Fungal Pathogen Invasion. J. Fungi 2020, 6, 205.

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