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Assessing whether disinfectants against the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis have negative effects on tadpoles and zooplankton

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Chytridiomycosis is an emerging disease of amphibians that has led to global population declines and possible extinctions. Vectoring of the pathogen, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) by anthropogenic means is thought to be important in its spread. To limit further increase in the distribution of Bd, field biologists and amateur naturalists ought to disinfect their boots and materials. However, imprudent use of potentially harmful disinfectants may have unwanted negative side effects on amphibians. We used a factorial experiment to test whether commonly used disinfectants (bleach and Virkon S) affect tadpole performance and zooplankton abundance. At the high dose of bleach, all tadpoles and zooplankton died. Tadpole performance and zooplankton abundance in the low dose of bleach and Virkon S treatments were undistinguishable from the control. Therefore, when bleach is used as a disinfectant, it must not get in contact with amphibians. Virkon S appears to be a disinfectant that can be used against Bd with no detectable negative effects on tadpoles and zooplankton.

Affiliations: 1: Zoologisches Institut, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland, KARCH, Passage Maximilien-de-Meuron 6, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland;, Email:; 2: Zoologisches Institut, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland


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