The influence of landscape and environmental...

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Abstract

  1. A fundamental goal of disease ecology is to determine the landscape and envi-

    ronmental processes that drive disease dynamics at different biological levels to guide management and conservation. Although ranaviruses (family Iridoviridae) are emerging amphibian pathogens, few studies have conducted comprehensive field surveys to assess potential drivers of ranavirus disease dynamics.

  2. We examined the factors underlying patterns in site-level ranavirus presence and individual-level ranavirus infection in 76 ponds and 1,088 individuals represent- ing five amphibian species within the East Bay region of California.

  3. Basedonacompeting-modelapproachfollowedbyvariancepartitioning,landscape and biotic variables explained the most variation in site-level presence. However, biotic and individual-level variables explained the most variation in individual-level infection.

  4. Distancetonearestranavirus-infectedpond(thelandscapefactor)wasmoreimpor- tant than biotic factors at the site level; however, biotic factors were most influen- tial at the individual level. At the site level, the probability of ranavirus presence correlated negatively with distance to nearest ranavirus-positive pond, suggesting that the movement of water or mobile taxa (e.g., adult amphibians, birds, reptiles) may facilitate the movement of ranavirus between ponds and across the landscape.

  5. Taxonomic richness associated positively with ranavirus presence at the site level, but vertebrate richness associated negatively with infection prevalence in the host population. This might reflect the contrasting influences of diversity on pathogen colonisation versus transmission among hosts.

  6. Amphibianhostspeciesdifferedintheirlikelihoodofranavirusinfection:American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) had the weakest association with infection while rough- skinned newts (Taricha granulosa) had the strongest. After accounting for host species effects, hosts with greater snout–vent length had a lower probability of infection.

  7. Our study demonstrates the array of landscape, environmental, and individual- level factors associated with ranavirus epidemiology. Moreover, our study helps illustrate that the importance of these factors varies with biological level. 

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