Can differences in host behavior drive patterns of disease prevalence in tadpoles?


Differences in host behavior and resistance to disease can influence the outcome of host-pathogen interactions. We capitalized on the variation in aggregation behavior of Fowler's toads (Anaxyrus [= Bufo] fowleri) and grey treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles and tested for differences in transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and host-specific fitness consequences (i.e., life history traits that imply fitness) of infection in single-species amphibian mesocosms. On average, A. fowleri mesocosms supported higher Bd prevalences and infection intensities relative to H. versicolor mesocosms. Higher Bd prevalence in A. fowleri mesocosms may result, in part, from higher intraspecific transmission due to the aggregation of tadpoles raised in Bd treatments. We also found that, independent of species, tadpoles raised in the presence of Bd were smaller and less developed than tadpoles raised in disease-free conditions. Our results indicate that aggregation behavior might increase Bd prevalence and that A. fowleri tadpoles carry heavier infections relative to H. versicolor tadpoles. However, our results demonstrate that Bd appears to negatively impact larval growth and developmental rates of A. fowleri and H. versicolor similarly, even in the absence of high Bd prevalence. © 2011 Venesky et al.

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