Infection increases vulnerability to climate change via effects on host thermal tolerance

Greenspan, Sasha E., Bower, Deborah S., Roznik, Elizabeth A., Pike, David, Marantelli, Gerry, Alford, Ross A., Schwarzkopf, Lin, and Scheffers, Brett R. (2017) Infection increases vulnerability to climate change via effects on host thermal tolerance. Scientific Reports, 7.

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Abstract

Unprecedented global climate change and increasing rates of infectious disease emergence are occurring simultaneously. Infection with emerging pathogens may alter the thermal thresholds of hosts. However, the effects of fungal infection on host thermal limits have not been examined. Moreover, the influence of infections on the heat tolerance of hosts has rarely been investigated within the context of realistic thermal acclimation regimes and potential anthropogenic climate change. We tested for effects of fungal infection on host thermal tolerance in a model system: frogs infected with the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Infection reduced the critical thermal maxima (CTmax) of hosts by up to ~4 °C. Acclimation to realistic daily heat pulses enhanced thermal tolerance among infected individuals, but the magnitude of the parasitism effect usually exceeded the magnitude of the acclimation effect. In ectotherms, behaviors that elevate body temperature may decrease parasite performance or increase immune function, thereby reducing infection risk or the intensity of existing infections. However, increased heat sensitivity from infections may discourage these protective behaviors, even at temperatures below critical maxima, tipping the balance in favor of the parasite. We conclude that infectious disease could lead to increased uncertainty in estimates of species’ vulnerability to climate change.

Item ID: 53033
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Additional Information:

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ISSN: 2045-2322
Funders: Wet Tropics Management Authority, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant number DP130101635
Research Data: http://doi.org/10.4225/28/5a0d1c14511d8
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2018 04:19
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0605 Microbiology > 060502 Infectious Agents @ 34%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060806 Animal Physiological Ecology @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 33%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 34%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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