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Detection of an FV3-like Ranavirus in Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans) in a Constructed Vernal Pool Network in Central New York State

Published: December 19th, 2016

Category: Publications

RYAN – Detection of an FV3-like Ranavirus in Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans) in a Constructed Vernal Pool Network in Central New York State

TESS E. YOUKER-SMITH, CHRISTOPHER M. WHIPPS, SADIE J. RYAN

Article first published online: 19 DEC 2016 Herpetological Review

SUMMARY: As the US Northeast experienced reforestation over the past decades, recovering former farmland to forests, the original vernal pools – seasonal pond systems – did not always return. In 2010, the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, in collaboration with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, constructed a series of vernal pools, in Heiberg Forest, Onondaga County, NY. Within a couple of years, as many as 42 of 71 pools were populated with amphibians, including wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and green frogs (Lithobates clamitans), indicating success of this conservation initiative. Shortly after, however, die-offs were seen in the pools. In this study, Youker-Smith et al. documented the presence of ranavirus, an emerging and often lethal pathogen of amphibians, reptiles, and fish, in the Heiberg vernal pool system, across 4 years of sampling. The pathogen was confirmed by genetic sequencing, to be a Frog Virus 3 ranavirus, and prevalence in sampled wood frogs was found to be as high as 51% (2014). This study shows that ranavirus is both present and persistent at Heiberg, and leads to die-offs in the system, however, it did not cause extinction of either species studied, during the four years. This points to the need for continued monitoring to understand how this may impact populations of amphibians in the longer term, and also provides useful methodological and baseline information for other constructed vernal pool conservation projects.

Read the full publication at Herpetological Review

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