Ranavirosis is a disease of high concern for amphibians due to widespread documentation of its lethal and sublethal impacts and its high transmission potential across populations and species. We investigated whether spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) ranavirus prevalence and viral load were associated with habitat characteristics, genetic diversity, corticosterone levels, and body size. In 2015 and 2016, we sampled 34 recently created vernal pools in the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia, USA. We collected tail clippings from 1,128 spotted salamander larvae and waterborne hormone samples from 436 of those larvae, along with eight environmental characteristics of the pools. Over the 2-yr period, we detected ranavirus in 62% of pools, with prevalence ranging from 0% to 63% (mean, 7.68%). Spotted salamander size was positively correlated with ranavirus presence and viral load; however, we did not find associations between ranavirus prevalence or viral load and habitat characteristics, spotted salamander genetic diversity, relatedness, effective number of breeders, or corticosterone levels. The widespread occurrence of ranavirus in the vernal pools illustrates the potential for rapid natural introduction of the pathogen to created wetlands. Managers could consider monitoring local distributions of ranavirus before creation of new vernal pools to guide strategic placement of the wetlands to minimize occurrence and prevalence of this pathogen.

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