TitleAdding infection to injury: Synergistic effects of predation and parasitism on amphibian malformations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsJohnson, PTJ, Preu, ER, Sutherland, DR, Romansic, JM, Han, B, Blaustein, AR
Type of ArticleJournal Article

We explored the importance of interactions between parasite infection and predation in driving an emerging phenomenon of conservation importance: amphibian limb malformations. We suggest that injury resulting from intraspecific predation in combination with trematode infection contributes to the frequency and severity of malformations in salamanders. By integrating field surveys and experiments, we evaluated the individual and combined effects of conspecific attack and parasite (Ribeiroia ondatrae) infection on limb development of long-toed salamanders (Ambystoma macrodactylum). In the absence of Ribeiroia, abnormalities involved missing digits, feet, or limbs and were similar to those produced by cannibalistic attack in experimental trials. At field sites that supported Ribeiroia, malformations were dominated by extra limbs and digits. Correspondingly, laboratory exposure of larval salamanders to Ribeiroia cercariae over a 30-day period induced high frequencies of malformations, including extra digits, extra limbs, cutaneous fusion, and micromelia. However, salamander limbs exposed to both injury and infection exhibited 3-5 times more abnormalities than those exposed to either factor alone. Infection also caused significant delays in limb regeneration and time-to-metamorphosis. Taken together, these results help to explain malformation patterns observed in natural salamander populations while emphasizing the importance of interactions between parasitism and predation in driving disease.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000240253000012