© 2017 Blooi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) drives declines and extinctions in amphibian communities. However, not all regions and species are equally affected. Here, we show that association with amphibian aquatic habitat types (bromeliad phytotelmata versus stream) across Central America results in the odds of being threatened by Bd being five times higher in stream microhabitats. This differential threat of Bd was supported in our study by a significantly lower prevalence of Bd in bromeliad-associated amphibian species compared to riparian species in Honduran cloud forests. Evidence that the bromeliad environment is less favorable for Bd transmission is exemplified by significantly less suitable physicochemical conditions and higher abundance of Bd-ingesting micro-eukaryotes present in bromeliad water. These factors may inhibit aquatic Bd zoospore survival and the development of an environmental reservoir of the pathogen. Bromeliad phytotelmata thus may act as environmental refuges from Bd, which contribute to protecting associated amphibian communities against chytridiomycosis-driven amphibian declines that threaten the nearby riparian communities.
Blooi, M., Laking, A. E., Martel, A., Haesebrouck, F., Jocque, M., Brown, T., … Pasmans, F. (2017). Host niche may determine disease-driven extinction risk. PLoS ONE, 12(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181051