Coccidioides niches and habitat parameters in the southwestern United States: A matter of scale

Frederick S. Fisher, Mark W. Bultman, Suzanne M. Johnson, Demosthenes Pappagianis, Erik Zaborsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

71 Scopus citations


To determine habitat attributes and processes suitable for the growth of Coccidioides, soils were collected from sites in Arizona, California, and Utah where Coccidioides is known to have been present. Humans or animals or both have been infected by Coccidioides at all of the sites. Soil variables considered in the upper 20 cm of the soil profile included pH, electrical conductivity, salinity, selected anions, texture, mineralogy, vegetation types and density, and the overall geomorphologic and ecological settings. Thermometerswere buried to determine the temperature range in the upper part of the soil where Coccidioides is often found. With the exception of temperature regimes and soil textures, it is striking that none of the other variables or group of variables that might be definitive are indicative of the presence of Coccidioides. Vegetation ranges from sparse to relatively thick cover in lower Sonoran deserts, Chaparral-upper Sonoran brush and grasslands, and Mediterranean savannas and forested foothills. No particular grass, shrub, or forb is definitive. Material classified as very fine sand and silt is abundant in all of the Coccidioides-bearing soils and may be their most common shared feature. Clays are not abundant (less than 10%). All of the examined soil locations are noteworthy as generally 50% of the individuals who were exposed to the dust or were excavating dirt at the sites were infected. Coccidioides has persisted in the soil at a site in Dinosaur National Monument, Utah for 37 years and at a Tucson, Arizona site for 41 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Number of pages26
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)00778923
ISSN (Electronic)17496632


  • Clay
  • Endemic zones
  • Habitat
  • Microorganisms
  • Niche
  • Porosity
  • Salinity
  • Sand
  • Silt
  • Soil
  • Temperature
  • Texture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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