TitleAn assessment of the correlation between amphibian populations, chytridiomycete communities, and the ecological integrity of the habitat
NameDiLeo, Karena V. (author), Lockwood, Julie (chair), Dighton, John (internal member), Morin, Peter (internal member), White, Jim (internal member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectEcology and Evolution,
DescriptionThe pathogenic chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has been implicated in amphibian declines worldwide. Thus far, little is known about the chytridiomycete (zoosporic fungi) communities and the prevalence of B. dendrobatidis in New Jersey. The New Jersey Pinelands are an ideal location to look for Bd as they are a unique ecosystem, representing an important overlap in the geographic range of many southern
and northern species and are experiencing habitat degradation caused by continued development.
In this study 6 sites have been identified using the Pinelands Commission's Comprehensive Management Plan, 3 sites of high ecological integrity (pristine) and 3 sites of low integrity (impacted). Using current accepted methods, anurans at these sites were collected, swabbed, and processed using PCR to identify the presence of Bd on their epidermis. Despite expectations, Bd was not found at any site on either anurans or free living in the water, debris, or mud. If Bd had been identified relative abundance of infection as well as species and life-stage of amphibian would have been compared within and between sites.
After the presence of Bd was refuted, our work changed to look at general zoosporic fungi (chytrid) communities within the Pinelands and how ecological degradation was altering abundance. Since pollution and nutrient enrichment can alter ecosystems and diversity, we wanted to investigate how fungal abundance changes
between pristine and degraded water bodies. Through abundance surveys and molecular analyses, PCR, DGGE, and molecular sequencing, we found that not only was abundance significantly different between sites, zoosporic fungi species were different and sites of differing ecological integrity were dominated by different fungi.
Zoosporic fungi from pristine and degraded sites were then subjected to lab manipulations to observe how changing environmental parameters increased or decreased abundance. pH appeared to be the driving factor in fungi abundance; increasing pH in pristine sites showed a significant decrease in population and decreasing pH found a significant increase in zoosporic fungi in impacted sites. These studies show the potential importance of zoosporic fungi as bioindicators of pollution and the drastic effect pollution has on ecosystems and biodiversity.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 55-57)
Noteby Karena V. DiLeo
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.