EVALUATING THE RISK OF VERTEBRATE PATHOGEN TRANSMISSION VIA RIPARIAN RESTORATION
Todd, Hunter Chase
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Riparian restoration frequently involves planting native species sourced from plant nurseries or other riparian areas. This presents an opportunity for the introduction of novel plant pathogens; however, it is unknown if these practices could transmit pathogens affecting other taxa, such as aquatic and semi-aquatic vertebrates. I investigated the occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and ranavirus in plant nurseries and the Gila and Mimbres rivers in southwestern New Mexico using eDNA methods. Positive detections of Bd were sequenced to examine isolate diversity. Bd was only detected in one plant nursery wetbed actively used by Spea tadpoles. Ranavirus was not detected in plant nurseries. Both Bd and ranavirus were detected in the field. Bd isolates found in the plant nursery differed genetically from those found in either the Mimbres or Gila rivers. Thus, managers should be aware of the potential to introduce novel varieties to local host populations. My findings suggest that the risk of transmission is minimal and likely non-existent depending on the restoration methods employed. Finally, I make suggestions to effectively mitigate the risk of transmission if concerns are raised for restoration projects in sensitive habitats.