Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence of the pathogenic chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, in an endangered population of northern leopard frogs, Rana pipiens

Maarten J Voordouw1*, Doug Adama2, Barb Houston3, Purnima Govindarajulu4 and John Robinson5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3020, Station CSC, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 3N5, Canada

2 BC Hydro, Unit 1 1007 11th Avenue, Golden, British Columbia, V0A 1H0, Canada

3 Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program - Columbia Basin, 103-333 Victoria Street, Nelson, British Columbia, V1L 4K3, Canada

4 BC Ministry of Environment, PO Box 9338 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 9M1, Canada

5 Animal Health Centre, BC Ministry of Agriculture & Lands, 1767 Angus Campbell Road, Abbotsford, British Columbia, V3G 2M3, Canada

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BMC Ecology 2010, 10:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6785-10-6

Published: 4 March 2010



Emerging infectious diseases threaten naïve host populations with extinction. Chytridiomycosis, an emerging infectious disease of amphibians, is caused by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and has been linked to global declines in amphibians.


We monitored the prevalence of Bd for four years in the Northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens, which is critically imperiled in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The prevalence of Bd initially increased and then remained constant over the last three years of the study. Young of the year emerging from breeding ponds in summer were rarely infected with Bd. Some individuals cleared their Bd infections and the return rate between infected and uninfected individuals was not significantly different.


The BC population of R. pipiens appears to have evolved a level of resistance that allows it to co-exist with Bd. However, this small population of R. pipiens remains vulnerable to extinction.