DAO 72:163-169 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao072163

Survival of three species of anuran metamorphs exposed to UV-B radiation and the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

T. S. Garcia1,2,*, J. M. Romansic1, A. R. Blaustein1

1Department of Zoology, 3029 Cordley Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-2914, USA
2Present address: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 104 Nash Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-3803, USA

ABSTRACT: When exploring the possible factors contributing to population declines, it is necessary to consider multiple, interacting environmental stressors. Here, we investigate the impact of 2 factors, ultraviolet radiation and disease, on the survival of anuran amphibians. Exposure to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation increases mortality and results in various sub-lethal effects for many amphibian species. Infectious diseases can also negatively impact amphibian populations. In this study, we exposed metamorphic individuals (metamorphs) to both UV-B and Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (BD), a fungal pathogen and cause of the disease chytridiomycosis, and monitored survival for 3 wk. We tested for possible interactions between UV-B and BD in 3 species: the Cascades frog Rana cascadae; the Western toad Bufo boreas; and the Pacific treefrog Hyla regilla. We found strong interspecific differences in susceptibility to BD. For example, R. cascadae suffered a large increase in mortality when exposed to BD; B. boreas also experienced mortality, but this effect was small relative to the R. cascadae response. H. regilla did not show any decrease in survival when exposed to either factor. No synergistic interactions between UV-B and BD were found for any of the test species. A previous study investigating the impact of BD on larval amphibians showed different species responses (Blaustein et al. 2005a). Our results highlight the importance of studying multiple life history stages when determining the impact of environmental stressors. The contrast between these 2 studies emphasizes how vulnerability to a pathogen can vary between life history stages within a single species.

KEY WORDS: Emerging infectious diseases · Batrachochytruim dendrobatadis · Ultraviolet radiation · Multiple stressors · Amphibian metamorph

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