TitleEffects of an Infectious Fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, on Amphibian Predator-Prey Interactions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHan, BA, Searle, CL, Blaustein, AR
JournalPlos One
Type of ArticleJournal Article

The effects of parasites and pathogens on host behaviors may be particularly important in predator-prey contexts, since few animal behaviors are more crucial for ensuring immediate survival than the avoidance of lethal predators in nature. We examined the effects of an emerging fungal pathogen of amphibians, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, on anti-predator behaviors of tadpoles of four frog species. We also investigated whether amphibian predators consumed infected prey, and whether B. dendrobatidis caused differences in predation rates among prey in laboratory feeding trials. We found differences in anti-predator behaviors among larvae of four amphibian species, and show that infected tadpoles of one species (Anaxyrus boreas) were more active and sought refuge more frequently when exposed to predator chemical cues. Salamander predators consumed infected and uninfected tadpoles of three other prey species at similar rates in feeding trials, and predation risk among prey was unaffected by B. dendrobatidis. Collectively, our results show that even sub-lethal exposure to B. dendrobatidis can alter fundamental anti-predator behaviors in some amphibian prey species, and suggest the unexplored possibility that indiscriminate predation between infected and uninfected prey (i.e., non-selective predation) could increase the prevalence of this widely distributed pathogen in amphibian populations. Because one of the most prominent types of predators in many amphibian systems is salamanders, and because salamanders are susceptible to B. dendrobatidis, our work suggests the importance of considering host susceptibility and behavioral changes that could arise from infection in both predators and prey.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000287036200030