DAO 116:205-212 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02915

Salamanders increase their feeding activity when infected with the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis 

Alexandra Hess*, Caroline McAllister, Joseph DeMarchi, Makenzie Zidek, Julie Murone, Matthew D. Venesky*,**

Department of Biology, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA 16335, USA
*These authors contributed equally to this work
**Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Immune function is a costly line of defense against parasitism. When infected with a parasite, hosts frequently lose mass due to these costs. However, some infected hosts (e.g. highly resistant individuals) can clear infections with seemingly little fitness losses, but few studies have tested how resistant hosts mitigate these costly immune defenses. We explored this topic using eastern red-backed salamanders Plethodon cinereus and the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd is generally lethal for amphibians, and stereotypical symptoms of infection include loss in mass and deficits in feeding. However, individuals of P. cinereus can clear their Bd infections with seemingly few fitness costs. We conducted an experiment in which we repeatedly observed the feeding activity of Bd-infected and non-infected salamanders. We found that Bd-infected salamanders generally increased their feeding activity compared to non-infected salamanders. The fact that we did not observe any differences in mass change between the treatments suggests that increased feeding might help Bd-infected salamanders minimize the costs of an effective immune response.


KEY WORDS: Amphibian · Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis · Behavior · Chytridiomycosis · Disease · Plethodon cinereus · Resistance


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Cite this article as: Hess A, McAllister C, DeMarchi J, Zidek M, Murone J, Venesky MD (2015) Salamanders increase their feeding activity when infected with the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis . Dis Aquat Org 116:205-212. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02915

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