Abstract

It is unclear how suitable human-made wetlands are for supporting wildlife and how they impact wildlife disease risk. Natural wetlands (those that were created without human actions) can support more diverse and resilient communities that are at lower risk of disease outbreaks. We compared frog community composition and infection with the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) between human-made and natural wetlands in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, US. We conducted visual encounter surveys of frog communities and quantified Bd infection prevalence at four natural and five human-made wetlands. Water parameters associated with human practices (e.g., pH, salinity) and surrounding land use were also compared across sites. We found higher Bd infection prevalence at human-made sites than at natural sites, with monthly differences showing highest infection in spring and fall, and decreasing infection with increasing water temperature. However, we found no differences between human-made and natural sites regarding amphibian community composition, water quality, or surrounding land use. Further, we found frog density increased with distance to nearest roads among both human-made and natural sites. These findings might suggest that human-made wetlands can support frog communities similar to natural wetlands, but pose a greater risk of Bd infection.

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