Environmental parameters such as temperature and rainfall influence the biology of amphibians and are likely to similarly influence the growth and prevalence of associated pathogens. Amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), causes an infectious disease, chytridiomycosis, in amphibians worldwide. Field studies on post-metamorphic anurans from tropical Australia have correlated increased prevalence with cool winter temperatures, but similar studies are lacking from Africa. We monitored the seasonality of amphibian chytrid in the Highveld of South Africa through microscopic examination of common river frog (Amietia angolensis) tadpoles over 12 months. Within the study area Bd was found to be widespread, but largely limited to riverine systems. The seasonal infection pattern was inconsistent with the findings of past studies, which showed that prevalence usually peaks during the cooler months of the year. This study indicates that infection levels increased during spring in the Grassland Biome, when temperatures favoured optimum thermal growth of the fungus and when streams reached minimum flow levels.
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Vol. 46 • No. 1