Testing the relationship between human occupancy in the landscape and tadpole developmental stress

Eterovick, Paula C., Bar, Luís F.F., Souza, Jorge B., Castro, Jose F.M., Leite, Felipe S.F., and Alford, Ross A. (2015) Testing the relationship between human occupancy in the landscape and tadpole developmental stress. PLoS One, 10 (3). e0120172. pp. 1-15.

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Amphibian population declines are widespread; the main causal factors are human related and include habitat fragmentation due to agriculture, mining, fires, and urban development. Brazil is the richest country in species of amphibians, and the Brazilian regions with the greatest amphibian diversity are experiencing relatively high rates of habitat destruction, but there are presently relatively few reports of amphibian declines. It is thus important to develop research methods that will detect deterioration in population health before severe declines occur. We tested the use of measurements of fluctuating asymmetry (FA) taken on amphibian larvae to detect anthropogenic stress. We hypothesized that greater human occupancy in the landscape might result in more stressful conditions for amphibians. We conducted this study at the Espinhaco mountain range in southeastern Brazil, using as a model an endemic species (Bokermannohyla saxicola, Hylidae). We chose two tadpole denticle rows and eye-nostril distance as traits for FA measurement. We measured percent cover of human-altered habitats in the landscape around tadpole sampling points and measured FA levels in sampled tadpoles. We found FA levels to differ among localities but found no relationship between human modification of the landscape and tadpole FA levels. Levels of FA in the traits we examined may not be strongly affected by environmental conditions, or may be affected by local variables that were not captured by our landscape-scale measures. Alternatively, populations may be genetically differentiated, affecting how FA levels respond to stress and obscuring the effects of anthropogenic disturbance.

Item ID: 41804
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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© 2015 Eterovick et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC-Minas), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)
Projects and Grants: PUC Minas FIP-2012/7485-2S, FAPEMIG CRA-765/06, CNPq 555081/2010-9
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 14:18
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060809 Vertebrate Biology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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