Short-term exposure to warm microhabitats could explain amphibian persistence with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.
MetadataShow full item record
Environmental conditions can alter the outcomes of symbiotic interactions. Many amphibian species have declined due to chytridiomycosis, caused by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), but many others persist despite high Bd infection prevalence. This indicates that Bd's virulence is lower, or it may even be a commensal, in some hosts. In the Australian Wet Tropics, chytridiomycosis extirpated Litoria nannotis from high-elevation rain forests in the early 1990 s. Although the species is recolonizing many sites, no population has fully recovered. Litoria lorica disappeared from all known sites in the early 1990 s and was thought globally extinct, but a new population was discovered in 2008, in an upland dry forest habitat it shares with L. nannotis. All frogs of both species observed during three population censuses were apparently healthy, but most carried Bd. Frogs perch on sun-warmed rocks in dry forest streams, possibly keeping Bd infections below the lethal threshold attained in cooler rain forests. We tested whether short-term elevated temperatures can hamper Bd growth in vitro over one generation (four days). Simulating the temperatures available to frogs on strongly and moderately warmed rocks in dry forests, by incubating cultures at 33°C for one hour daily, reduced Bd growth below that of Bd held at 15°C constantly (representing rain forest habitats). Even small decreases in the exponential growth rate of Bd on hosts may contribute to the survival of frogs in dry forests.
Place of Publication
The following license files are associated with this item: