Chytridiomycosis is affecting amphibians worldwide, causing the decline and extinction of several amphibian populations. The disease is caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a multihost pathogen living in freshwater habitats. While several environmental factors have been associated with the prevalence of Bd and its virulence, the effects of water quality on the pathogen are not clear yet. Some evidence suggests that water pollution may reduce amphibians’ immune response and increase prevalence of Bd. To explore this hypothesis, we analyzed the relationship between water quality and the presence of Bd by using spatial data mining of 150 geolocations of Bd in amphibians from 9 families where Bd positive specimens have been previously reported, and water quality in 4,202 lentic and lotic water bodies in Mexico from 2010 to 2021. Our model showed that in the 3 main families where Bd was recorded, its presence is high in locations with low water quality, i.e., water polluted likely contaminated with urban and industrial waste. Using this model, we inferred areas suitable for Bd in Mexico; mainly in poorly studied areas along the gulf and on the pacific slope. We further argue that actions to reduce water pollution should become an integral part of public policies to prevent the spread of Bd and protect amphibians from this deadly pathogen.
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- Emergent diseases
- Water quality