Temperature, hydric environment, and prior pathogen exposure alter the experimental severity of chytridiomycosis in boreal toads

Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
By: , and 

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Abstract

Prevalence of the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), implicated in amphibian population declines worldwide, is associated with habitat moisture and temperature, but few studies have varied these factors and measured the response to infection in amphibian hosts. We evaluated how varying humidity, contact with water, and temperature affected the manifestation of chytridiomycosis in boreal toads Anaxyrus (Bufo) boreas boreas and how prior exposure to Bd affects the likelihood of survival after re-exposure, such as may occur seasonally in long-lived species. Humidity did not affect survival or the degree of Bd infection, but a longer time in contact with water increased the likelihood of mortality. After exposure to ~106 Bd zoospores, all toads in continuous contact with water died within 30 d. Moreover, Bd-exposed toads that were disease-free after 64 d under dry conditions, developed lethal chytridiomycosis within 70 d of transfer to wet conditions. Toads in unheated aquaria (mean = 15°C) survived less than 48 d, while those in moderately heated aquaria (mean = 18°C) survived 115 d post-exposure and exhibited behavioral fever, selecting warmer sites across a temperature gradient. We also found benefits of prior Bd infection: previously exposed toads survived 3 times longer than Bd-naïve toads after re-exposure to 106 zoospores (89 vs. 30 d), but only when dry microenvironments were available. This study illustrates how the outcome of Bd infection in boreal toads is environmentally dependent: when continuously wet, high reinfection rates may overwhelm defenses, but periodic drying, moderate warming, and previous infection may allow infected toads to extend their survival.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Temperature, hydric environment, and prior pathogen exposure alter the experimental severity of chytridiomycosis in boreal toads
Series title Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
DOI 10.3354/dao02336
Volume 95
Issue 1
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
First page 31
Last page 42
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