Host thermoregulatory constraints predict growth of an amphibian chytrid pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)

Stevenson, Lisa A., Roznik, Elizabeth A., Greenspan, Sasha E., Alford, Ross A., and Pike, David A. (2020) Host thermoregulatory constraints predict growth of an amphibian chytrid pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Journal of Thermal Biology, 87. 102472.

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1. The course and outcome of many wildlife diseases are context-dependent, and therefore change depending on the behaviour of hosts and environmental response of the pathogen.

2. Contemporary declines in amphibian populations are widely attributed to chytridiomycosis, caused by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Despite the thermal sensitivity of the pathogen and its amphibian hosts, we do not understand how host thermal regimes experienced by frogs in the wild directly influence pathogen growth.

3. We tested how thermal regimes experienced by the rainforest frog Litoria rheocola in the wild influence pathogen growth in the laboratory, and whether these responses differ from pathogen growth under available environmental thermal regimes.

4. Frog thermal regimes mimicked in the laboratory accelerated pathogen growth during conditions representative of winter at high elevations more so than if temperatures matched air or stream water temperatures. By contrast, winter frog thermal regimes at low elevations slowed pathogen growth relative to air temperatures, but not water temperatures.

5. The growth pattern of the fungus under frog thermal regimes matches field prevalence and intensity of infections for this species (high elevation winter > high elevation summer > low elevation winter > low elevation summer), whereas pathogen growth trajectories under environmental temperatures did not match these patterns.

6. If these laboratory results translate into field responses, tropical frogs may be able to reduce disease impacts by regulating their body temperatures to limit pathogen growth (e.g., by using microhabitats that facilitate basking to reach high temperatures); in other cases, the environment may limit the ability of frogs to thermoregulate such that individuals are more vulnerable to this pathogen (e.g., in dense forests at high elevations).

7. Species-specific thermoregulatory behaviour, and interactions with and constraints imposed by the environment, are therefore essential to understanding and predicting the spatial and temporal impacts of this global disease.

Item ID: 62320
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-0992
Keywords: Amphibian chytrid fungus, Amphibian decline, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Body temperature regulation, Host thermoregulation, Litoria rheocola, Pathogen fitness, Physiological model
Copyright Information: (C) 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University, Queensland Frog Society (QFS)
Projects and Grants: QFS Ric Natrass Research Grant
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 07:35
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310702 Infectious agents @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410299 Ecological applications not elsewhere classified @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310999 Zoology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960409 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Mountain and High Country Environments @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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