ALABAMA ANTI-CHYTRID ALLIANCE (AACA)
Ruffner Mountain is part of The Alabama Anti-Chytrid Alliance (AACA) is a new grouping of institutions and professionals concerned about the spread of the chytrid fungus and other aquatic nuisance species (ANS) among southeastern wetlands and amphibian populations.
The chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is an aquatic disease infecting and carried by many amphibians. It is implicated in mass population declines of amphibians around the world. More information is readily available in the scientific literature and online, but Amphibian Ark offers a succinct summary: http://www.amphibianark.org/chytrid.htm. SEPARC (Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) offers a series of fact sheets and references on herp diseases of concern in the Southeast: http://www.separc.org/.
AACA is concerned about the recent discoveries of chytrid in Alabama. Recently Dr. Kristin A. Bakkegard, Samford University, discovered chytrid at Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, Birmingham(1). Previously, it had been detected at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park (Tallapoosa Co, AL) by M.W. Byrne et al. 2008(2).
The chytrid fungus was detected in the Red Lakes region of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center as well as high concentrations of arsenic in the soil (remnants of Ruffner’s mining past). Use caution when in these areas to reduce the potential spread of this disease to other non-infected areas of the mountain.
We know neither the history nor the future of the disease in the state, but we do know that chytrid and other ANS can be transported on nets, boots, and other equipment that biologists use when sampling amphibians, fishes, plants or any wetland species.
Those in the alliance have instituted protocols to reduce the risk of spreading chytrid and ANS during field trips and research. Please join us in our efforts to reduce the spread of ANS by instituting your own sterilization protocol of field equipment. Sterilization of equipment with a dilute bleach solution is inexpensive and effective. To facilitate the use of sterilization procedures, on request we are sharing protocols that we and others are using.
Here is how you can help:
1. Share this information with others (individuals, agencies, organizations, institutions) who should know about chytrid and ANS, or submit their names to us so that we may contact them.
3. Inform us if you personally, and/or your host institution, organization, or agency uses or will now use sterilization procedures to combat the spread of ANS. Let us know if you want your name or that of your host entity added to the list of AACA institutions.
4. Prevent the spread of chytrid. Disinfect boots, nets, fishing equipment, etc. when moving from one area to another.
The Alabama Anti-Chytrid Alliance:
Alabama Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ALAPARC); Sean Graham & David A. Steen, Co-chairs
Birmingham-Southern College, Biology Department Birmingham; Drs. Scot Duncan, Megan Gibbons and Peter Van Zandt
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, Birmingham; Nick Bieser, Conservation land manager
Samford University, Biology Department, Birmingham, AL; Drs. Kristen Bakkegard, Malia Fincher, Bob Stiles, and Larry Davenport
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Biology Department; Dr. Ken Marion
University of Montevallo, Biology Department; Dr. Jill Wicknick
Dr. R. Scot Duncan
Associate Professor of Biology
and Urban Envt'l Studies
Conservation Land Manager
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center
Birminhgam, AL 35206
(1) BAKKEGARD, K. A., and A. P. PESSIER. in press. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in adult Notophthalmus viridescens in North-Central Alabama, USA. Herpetological Review.
(2) BYRNE, M. W., E. P. DAVIE, and J. W. GIBBONS. 2008. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis occurrence in Eurycea cirrigera. Southeastern Naturalist. 7:551-555.