Willow Street, PA, United States
Willow Street, PA, United States

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Bales E.K.,James Madison University | Hyman O.J.,James Madison University | Loudon A.H.,James Madison University | Loudon A.H.,University of British Columbia | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Recent worldwide declines and extinctions of amphibian populations have been attributed to chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Until recently, Bd was thought to be the only Batrachochytrium species that infects amphibians; however a newly described species, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bs), is linked to die-offs in European fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Little is known about the distribution, host range, or origin of Bs. In this study, we surveyed populations of an aquatic salamander that is declining in the United States, the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis), for the presence of Bs and Bd. Skin swabs were collected from a total of 91 individuals in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia, and tested for both pathogens using duplex qPCR. Bs was not detected in any samples, suggesting it was not present in these hellbender populations (0% prevalence, 95% confidence intervals of 0.0-0.04). Bd was found on 22 hellbenders (24% prevalence, 95% confidence intervals of 0.16 ≤ 0.24 ≤ 0.34), representing all four states. All positive samples had low loads of Bd zoospores (12.7 ± 4.9 S.E.M. genome equivalents) compared to other Bd susceptible species. More research is needed to determine the impact of Batrachochytrium infection on hellbender fitness and population viability. In particular, understanding how hellbenders limit Bd infection intensity in an aquatic environment may yield important insights for amphibian conservation. This study is among the first to evaluate the distribution of Bs in the United States, and is consistent with another, which failed to detect Bs in the U.S. Knowledge about the distribution, host-range, and origin of Bs may help control the spread of this pathogen, especially to regions of high salamander diversity, such as the eastern United States.


PubMed | Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Gregory Lipps LLC, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and James Madison University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

Recent worldwide declines and extinctions of amphibian populations have been attributed to chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Until recently, Bd was thought to be the only Batrachochytrium species that infects amphibians; however a newly described species, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bs), is linked to die-offs in European fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). Little is known about the distribution, host range, or origin of Bs. In this study, we surveyed populations of an aquatic salamander that is declining in the United States, the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis), for the presence of Bs and Bd. Skin swabs were collected from a total of 91 individuals in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia, and tested for both pathogens using duplex qPCR. Bs was not detected in any samples, suggesting it was not present in these hellbender populations (0% prevalence, 95% confidence intervals of 0.0-0.04). Bd was found on 22 hellbenders (24% prevalence, 95% confidence intervals of 0.16 0.24 0.34), representing all four states. All positive samples had low loads of Bd zoospores (12.7 4.9 S.E.M. genome equivalents) compared to other Bd susceptible species. More research is needed to determine the impact of Batrachochytrium infection on hellbender fitness and population viability. In particular, understanding how hellbenders limit Bd infection intensity in an aquatic environment may yield important insights for amphibian conservation. This study is among the first to evaluate the distribution of Bs in the United States, and is consistent with another, which failed to detect Bs in the U.S. Knowledge about the distribution, host-range, and origin of Bs may help control the spread of this pathogen, especially to regions of high salamander diversity, such as the eastern United States.


Leuenberger W.,Indiana University of Pennsylvania | Leuenberger W.,SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry | Bearer S.,Nature Conservancy | Duchamp J.,Indiana University of Pennsylvania | And 4 more authors.
Natural Areas Journal | Year: 2016

Scrub oak barrens were once distributed throughout portions of the northeastern United States. This fire-dependent community covered over 809,000 ha in Pennsylvania during the mid-1900s, but was reduced to about 7132 ha by the late 1900s. Decline of scrub oak barrens is attributed to development, fire suppression, and colonization by fire-intolerant trees. Scrub oak barrens are a state imperiled ecosystem and in recent years, efforts to restore late successional barrens through mechanical cutting and prescribed fire have been initiated in Pennsylvania. Scrub oak barrens support high species richness, including several rare or declining species of plants and animals. This ecosystem is also known for supporting rare Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species. We used light traps and bait stations to compare Lepidoptera communities in restored and late successional scrub oak barrens in northeastern Pennsylvania. A total of 13,386 individuals were identified, representing 373 species. Nine species are state-listed, with four of these species detected exclusively in restored barrens. Few differences in Lepidoptera species richness, diversity, or abundance were found between restored and late successional barrens. Moth communities were similar across all sites and forb presence partially explained moth variance. Several species (n = 197) were found in both restored and late successional sites. However, several species were unique to restored (n = 128) and late successional sites (n = 48). Our findings suggest scrub oak barrens should be managed to create a mosaic of successional stages throughout the landscape if Lepidoptera diversity is a conservation goal.


Smith T.A.,Western Union | Smith T.A.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Meyer E.S.,Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Northeastern Naturalist | Year: 2010

The main-stem Allegheny River is nationally recognized for its freshwater mussel (Unionidae: Bivalvia) diversity; however, habitat disturbance and degradation may have triggered the decline and loss of mussel communities in the lower river, where lock and dam structures restrict the free flow of water and sand and gravel removal threaten limited habitat. We examined mussel diversity and abundance across 75 transects throughout navigational pools and recorded 21 live native mussel species, including federally endangered Pleurobema clava (Clubshell) and Epioblasma torulosa rangiana (Northern Riffleshell) and several species with state endangered or threatened status. Riverine species richness and counts were significantly higher in the most-upstream portions of the upper pools, indicating that areas with consistent flows and suitable substrate just downstream of the dams may provide refugia for riverine freshwater mussel species. Sand, gravel, cobble, boulder, and organic debris had significant positive effects on riverine and facultative counts, while clay, bedrock, and woody debris had significant negative effects. Silt and woody debris had significant negative effects on riverine species richness, and sand and gravel had significant positive effects. These data will help identify sensitive areas for future protection and provide baseline data for monitoring future trends. The protection of relatively shallow areas with suitable substrates not yet impacted by dredging operations will be important to sustain remaining freshwater mussel populations in these pools.


Mcgraw J.B.,West Virginia University | Lubbers A.E.,Centre College at Danville | Van der Voort M.,New Mexico Highlands University | Mooney E.H.,Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts | And 4 more authors.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Year: 2013

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) is an uncommon to rare understory plant of the eastern deciduous forest. Harvesting to supply the Asian traditional medicine market made ginseng North America's most harvested wild plant for two centuries, eventually prompting a listing on CITES Appendix II. The prominence of this representative understory plant has led to its use as a phytometer to better understand how environmental changes are affecting many lesser-known species that constitute the diverse temperate flora of eastern North America. We review recent scientific findings concerning this remarkable phytometer species, identifying factors through its history of direct and indirect interactions with humans that have led to the current condition of the species. Harvest, deer browse, and climate change effects have been studied in detail, and all represent unique interacting threats to ginseng's long-term persistence. Finally, we synthesize our current understanding by portraying ginseng's existence in thousands of small populations, precariously poised to either escape or be drawn further toward extinction by the actions of our own species. © 2013 The New York Academy of Sciences.


Unger S.D.,Wingate University | Chapman E.J.,Western Pennsylvania Conservancy | Regester K.J.,Clarion University of Pennsylvania | Williams R.N.,Purdue University
Herpetological Conservation and Biology | Year: 2016

The Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) is a large paedomorphic salamander experiencing declines throughout much of its geographic range. Little is known regarding the effect of anthropogenic isolating mechanisms (stream alteration, habitat fragmentation, or dams) on levels of genetic diversity or structure. Conservation needs for this species include assessing levels of fine-scale genetic structure at the state-level and determining the number of discrete genetic groupings, genetic diversity, and effective population size (Ne) across Pennsylvania watersheds of the Allegheny, and Western Branch of the Susquehanna Rivers. These watersheds are located within the core of the Eastern Hellbender range and represent one of the few stable locations in the country. We examined the landscape genetics of 13 distinct stream reaches, represented by 284 Eastern Hellbenders, using both spatial and non-spatial Bayesian genetic approaches. Pennsylvania populations of Eastern Hellbenders are characterized by significant genetic structure that is partitioned among dendritic river drainages. Bayesian clustering analysis inferred four discrete genetic clusters (three within the Allegheny River drainage and one within the Susquehanna River drainage). Estimates of Ne for discrete genetic clusters were variable among clusters but higher within the northern Allegheny National Forest. Evidence for a population bottleneck was detected at one cluster; however, overall levels of genetic diversity were high among stream reaches. Based on our results, gene flow (possibly downstream drift) is high among watersheds based on genetic signatures from adults sampled. We suggest increased sampling of younger age classes, which may reflect more recent patterns of gene flow. These finding are important for future conservation management strategies within Pennsylvania watersheds and across the range of the species. © 2016. Shem D. Unger. All Rights Reserved.


Renzaglia K.S.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | Crandall-Stotler B.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | Pressel S.,Natural History Museum in London | Duckett J.G.,Natural History Museum in London | And 2 more authors.
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2015

The liverwort Haplomitrium gibbsiae is shown to regularly produce spores released in the form of permanent dyad pairs. Developmental studies indicate that the dyads are produced via a unique half-lobed configuration of the developing sporocyte. Many fossil cryptophytes of Siluro-Devonian age, which are clearly embryophytes based on their morphology, contain permanent spore dyads in their sporangia, but this is the first demonstration of their occurrence in a living plant, a species belonging to Haplomitriopsida, which resolves in a clade that is considered to be sister to all remaining liverworts. Dispersed spore-like dyads are found in the rock record as far back as the mid-Cambrian, but most researchers still regard the first occurrence of isomorphic, tetrahedral tetrads in the mid-Ordovician as the benchmark age for the origin of land plants. Regardless of the geological antiquity of the embryophytes, it appears that H.gibbsiae has retained a non-simultaneous form of sporogenesis that may ultimately be traced to a charophytic origin. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London.

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