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Natural stressors and disease risk: does the threat of predation increase amphibian susceptibility to ranavirus?
Canadian Journal of Zoology (2012)
  • Nathan A. Haislip, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • J. T. Hoverman
  • Debra L. Miller, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Matthew J. Gray, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Emerging infectious diseases have been identified as threats to biodiversity, yet our understanding of the factors contributing to host susceptibility to pathogens within natural populations remains limited. It has been proposed that species interactions within communities affect host susceptibility to pathogens, thereby contributing to disease emergence. In particular, predation risk is a common natural stressor that has been hypothesized to compromise immune function of prey through chronic stress responses possibly leading to increased susceptibility to pathogens. We examined whether predation risk experienced during the development of four larval anuran species increases susceptibility (mortality and infection) to ranaviruses, a group of viruses responsible for amphibian die-offs. Using controlled laboratory experiments, we exposed each species to a factorial combination of two virus treatments (no virus or virus) crossed with three predator-cue treatments (no predators, larval dragonflies, or adult water bugs). All four amphibian species reduced activity by 22%-48% following continuous exposure to predator cues. In addition, virus exposure significantly reduced survival by 17%-100% across all species. However, exposure to predator cues did not interact with the virus treatments to elevate mortality or viral load. Our results suggest that the expression of predator-induced plasticity in anuran larvae does not increase ranaviral disease risk.
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Citation Information
Nathan A. Haislip, J. T. Hoverman, Debra L. Miller and Matthew J. Gray. "Natural stressors and disease risk: does the threat of predation increase amphibian susceptibility to ranavirus?" Canadian Journal of Zoology Vol. 90 Iss. 7 (2012)
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