Journal article

Declining amphibians might be evolving increased reproductive effort in the face of devastating disease

Laura A Brannelly, Rebecca J Webb, Zhixuan Jiang, Lee Berger, Lee F Skerratt, Laura F Grogan

EVOLUTION | WILEY | Published : 2021


The devastating infectious disease chytridiomycosis has caused declines of amphibians across the globe, yet some populations are persisting and even recovering. One understudied effect of wildlife disease is changes in reproductive effort. Here, we aimed to understand if the disease has plastic effects on reproduction and if reproductive effort could evolve with disease endemism. We compared the effects of experimental pathogen exposure (trait plasticity) and population-level disease history (evolution in trait baseline) on reproductive effort using gametogenesis as a proxy in the declining and endangered frog Litoria verreauxii alpina. We found that unexposed males from disease-endemic popu..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Dr Peter Harlow and Michael McFadden for maintaining the fixed animals, and Scott Cashins and the members of the Taronga Zoo Herpetofauna Department for assistance with the live animal study. We thank Sara Bell for analyzing infection load. This work was funded by Australian Research Council grant DE180101395 and FT190100462. The live animal work was funded by the Morris Animal Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service-Wildlife Without Borders program, Australian Research Council grants FT100100375, LP110200240, and DP120100811, Taronga Conservation Science Initiative, and the NSW office of environment and Heritage.