Golden frogs use basking to fight chytrid

Ectotherms like reptiles and amphibians are thought to use basking to help clear infections by inducing higher temperatures similar to a fever. The Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki) was found to use the same technique with the amphibian chytrid fungus. From about 2004-2006, while golden frogs could still be found in the wild, Bd prevalence was found to be inversely correlated with body temperature of the frogs. During this time, as infection intensity and prevalence rapidly increased in the golden frog populations, more frogs were found warming themselves to raise their body temperature above the ideal temperature of growth for chytrid (23 degrees Celsius). Basically these frogs were behaviorally inducing the conditions of a fever in an attempt to clear their system of the pathogen.

Golden frogs also typically spent most of their time in relatively dry grassy areas when not breeding. When breeding season came, they would move to riparian habitats by cool rivers, putting them at higher risk of coming into contact with Bd. This study only measured Bd levels during the breeding season, so unfortunately there was no data on golden frog chytrid infections while they were away from their breeding habitats. It seems that although behavioral adaptations were in place to fight the chytrid infection, they were not enough to prevent the decline of the Panamanian golden frog. Perhaps if there were more habitat for these rare frogs, they would be able to survive and adapt to the chytrid fungus. As with many things, though, habitat is in short supply, and the possibility of being able to reintroduce captive bred golden frogs becomes fainter every day as more and more rainforest is destroyed.

Frog: 7, Fungus: 7

Comments Off on Golden frogs use basking to fight chytrid

Filed under Uncategorized

Comments are closed.