Jung, L., J. Dusek, T. Lüddecke, V. Schulz, K. Maier-Sam, L. Habich, A. Mosebach, M. Lierz & H.-P. Ziemek

In Issues 2020

Epidemiological screening of captive salamanders reveals current absence of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in private collections throughout the federal state of Hesse (Germany). pp. 233-238.

Abstract. The infamous chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) recently led to the collapse of European fire salamander populations (Salamandra salamandra) in The Netherlands. Currently, the pathogen has been rapidly expanding its range and threatens salamander populations throughout Europe, including Germany. Here, Bsal is known from wild and captive amphibians and has mostly been reported from the federal state of Northrhine-Westphalia. Due to the geographical proximity of infected areas, its dispersal into neighbouring states is possible. A Bsal taskforce was therefore recently formed in the state of Hesse that aims to implement preparative measures for Bsal mitigation at different levels. Based on the known Bsal susceptibility of salamanders in captivity and their inherent threat potential towards natural populations, an epidemiological screening for Bsal prevalence in private amphibian collections throughout the state of Hesse was conducted. We analysed a total of 174 samples from nine private collections of different urodelan species via qPCR and did not detect Bsal. We discuss our results and their implications for salamander conservation relative to other surveys of this kind and underscore the importance of tight cooperation between private keepers and conservation scientists in order to protect wild amphibians from the lethal Bsal fungus.

Key words. Amphibia, Caudata, Salamandra salamandra, Bsal, chytrid fungus, emerging infectious diseases, disease monitoring, European fire salamander, herpetoculture.

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