Factors Affecting Probability of Amphibian Occurrence on Pole Mountain : Evaluating Water Quality, Disease and Predation
presentationposted on 06.05.2016, 00:00 authored by Adrienne Sulser
Amphibian populations are declining worldwide at a dramatic rate. As a taxonomic group, amphibians are sensitive to a suite of environmental stressors such as water quality, disease and predation. They are critical component of ecosystems such as the freshwater ecosystem on Pole Mountain, Wyoming, which provides habitat for three native amphibian species: Tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium), Leopard Frogs (Lithobates pipiens), and Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata). This study examines how water quality, disease and predation influence the probability of amphibian occurrence on Pole Mountain. Environmental DNA (eDNA), DNA that is found in the environment, is highly effective for detecting presence of species in aquatic environments where these species live. By using water samples filtered for eDNA and quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), the presence of E. Coli (an indicator of water quality), Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (BD) fungus (a disease affecting amphibians) and Brook Trout (a predatory species) can be detected. By correlating the presence or absence of each species we can see how the probability of the occurrence of amphibians is affected. This project helps us to better understand factors influencing amphibian decline and will give important insights to the interactions and health of species and aid in our understanding of ecological biodiversity.