ABS 2022
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Assessment of Amphibian Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Chytridiomycosis
Samantha Shablin, Sofia Valencia-Osorio, Ana Longo, Nick Keiser. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl, United States

 Amphibians have been experiencing declines at alarming rates. The lethal skin disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has been a major player in these declines, though its role in amphibian physiology and behavior remains unclear. Disease-induced changes in immune function, stress physiology, and exploration behaviors have the potential to significantly impact amphibian survival and fitness, yet are often ignored in tandem. Here, we examine this triad of responses in a frog highly susceptible to Bd infection, the Cuban treefrog, by comparing lymphocyte profiles, urinary glucocorticoid levels, and activity/exploratory behavior in infected and uninfected individuals. Our results indicate that frogs with high infection loads and long Bd exposure show increased corticosterone levels, but no relationship with lymphocyte counts. When disregarding treatment, all frogs became less active and more exploratory post-exposure to Bd or water. This experimental approach addresses the complex relationships between disease, physiology, and behavior and highlights the potential role that experimental design can play in shaping behavioral responses.