Urinary corticosterone metabolites and chytridiomycosis disease prevalence in a free-living population of male Stony Creek frogs (Litoria wilcoxii)
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The emerging amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, which is caused by the fungal pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd), has caused mass mortalities of native amphibian populations globally. There have been no previous studies on the relationships between stress hormones in free-living amphibians and Bd infections. In this study, we measured urinary corticosterone metabolite concentrations and Bd infections within free-living populations of male Stony Creek frog (Litoria wilcoxii) in Queensland, Australia. Prevalence of Bd zoospores from frog skin swabs was quantified using a real-time quantitative PCR technique. A urinary corticosterone enzyme-immunoassay (EIA) was validated using adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge. Urinary corticosterone concentrations of male frogs increased within 1-2 days after ACTH challenge and returned to baseline levels within 3 days post-ACTH injection. None of the frogs showed any rise in urinary corticosterone after saline injections. Individual male frogs showed either low or high baseline corticosterone concentrations. Male frogs identified as positive for Bd infection had significantly higher baseline urinary corticosterone concentrations in comparison to Bd negative male frogs. Urinary corticosterone EIA provides a reliable indication of stress in this frog species and this non-invasive physiological tool can be used to further assess the dynamics of Bd infections and physiological stress responses in other native amphibians.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Conservation and Biodiversity