Many global amphibian declines have been linked to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). The knowledge on Bd distribution provides a fundamental basis for amphibian conservation planning. Yet, such Bd distribution information is currently insufficient, in particular at a regional scale. The college classroom provides an excellent opportunity to expand the knowledge of Bd distribution. Here we provide an example of such research projects to detect Bd prevalence among local amphibians in a college course setting and present the results of work conducted in central Pennsylvania, USA. We collected toe clips and conducted PCR assays of six species, Plethodon cinereus, Desmognathus fuscus, Notophthalmus viridescens, Lithobates catesbeianus, L. clamitans, and L. sylvaticus (59 individuals). Four groups of students independently conducted entire projects, orally presented their findings, and submitted manuscripts to the professor at the end of the semester. This example demonstrates that it is feasible for an undergraduate class to complete a Bd-detection project within a single semester. Such a project not only contributes to Bd research but also promotes conservation education among students through hands-on research experiences. We found Bd infection in only one sample of N. viridescens, but no sign of infection in the rest of the samples. As a relatively high prevalence of Bd has been reported in surrounding areas, our results suggest spatial heterogeneity in Bd occurrence at a regional scale and thus, the need for continued efforts to monitor Bd prevalence.
Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Wunder, Julie; Lampazzi, Noel; Acre, Kelsey; Bent, Nicholas; Canter, Sadie; Chapman, Alexandra; Davies, Margaret; Kashan, David; Keiley, Jonathan; Macintyre, Rachel; Milton, Tamara; Weichler, Kara; Wilson, Matthew; and Takahashi, Mizuki. "Promoting Amphibian Conservation through the College Classroom: Detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis among Local Amphibians." Herpetological Conservation and Biology (2012) : 462-469.