The effects of multiple pathogens on amphibians in the Pacific Northwest Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pv63g2300

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  • The earth is undergoing a “biodiversity crisis” characterized by loss of populations, species, genetic diversity, and ecosystem services. Part of this crisis consists of population declines, extinctions, and increased incidence of deformities in amphibians. It is unknown whether deformities contribute to these declines. Many cases of population declines in amphibians are associated with infectious disease. Water molds (Oomycota: Oomycetes: Saprolegniales) (e.g. Achlya and Saprolegnia) may contribute to amphibian population declines whereas parasitic flatworms (Ribeiroia) appear to be major causes of amphibian deformities. I found that Saprolegnia can kill larval and newly-metamorphosed juvenile amphibians. In addition, I investigated synergistic effects of Saprolegnia and the environmental contaminant nitrate on survival of amphibian larvae. No synergisms were found. However, there was a less-than-additive interaction affecting one frog species. Saprolegnia killed Rana aurora (red-legged frog) larvae, but only when nitrate was not added, consistent with nitrate preventing Saprolegnia from killing R. aurora. I also tested for possible interactions among the pathogenic water mold A. flagellata, the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (BD), and the parasitic trematode Ribeiroia. No between-pathogen interactions were found, however, there were main effects of Ribeiroia and BD. Ribeiroia caused mortality and increased frequency of limb deformities. There were differences in the composition of deformity types between my study and previous work, suggesting that the relative frequencies of different deformity types produced by Ribeiroia may be context-dependent. Also, there was an overall effect of delayed development in Ribeiroia-exposed individuals. In addition, individuals that did not die or display limb deformities following Ribeiroia exposure had slower development than controls not exposed to Ribeiroia. Delayed development may contribute to the effects of Ribeiroia on amphibian populations. In contrast, BD sped up development, although there was no evidence of BD infection. These results are consistent with amphibian larvae responding to the presence of BD by increasing the rate of development. Hastened metamorphosis and dispersal from larval habitats may decrease the risk of BD infection or reduce BD infection load. Mortality of post-embryonic life stages from water molds and sublethal effects of Ribeiroia and BD on amphibian development may influence how these pathogens interact with amphibian populations.
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