HERPETOLOGICAL CONSERVATION AND BIOLOGY, vol.16, no.3, pp.534-541, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease of amphibians caused by either of two aquatic fungal pathogens, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal). In this study, we carried out Bd and Bsal screening to determine the presence or absence of these fungal pathogens in seven populations of Caucasian Salamanders (Mertensiella caucasica), which is categorized as Vulnerable on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and whose distribution is limited to the countries of Georgia and Turkey. We collected 70 skin swabs from seven populations in northern Turkey, and analysed them using Real-time PCR (quantitative PCR, qPCR). We did not detect the presence of either fungal pathogen or signs of morbidity or mortality in any of the populations sampled. Moreover, we classified the quality of the streams occupied by the species using criteria established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Turkey for inland surface waters. We suggest that the apparent absence of both pathogens is related to the habitat selectivity of the species because Caucasian Salamanders inhabit waters that fall into similar categories of quality criteria parameters, including dissolved oxygen, nitrate, and pH. We hope that this preliminary data will contribute to effective protection management of this vulnerable species in the future.