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Data from: Salinity stress increases the severity of ranavirus epidemics in amphibian populations

Cite this dataset

Hall, Emily; Brunner, Jesse; Hutzenbiler, Brandon; Crespi, Erica (2020). Data from: Salinity stress increases the severity of ranavirus epidemics in amphibian populations [Dataset]. Dryad.


The stress-induced susceptibility hypothesis, which predicts chronic stress weakens immune defenses, was proposed to explain increasing infectious disease-related mass mortality and population declines. Previous work characterized wetland salinization as a chronic stressor to larval amphibian populations. Thus, we combined field observations with experimental exposures quantifying epidemiological parameters to test the role of salinity stress in the occurrence of ranavirus-associated mass mortality events. Despite ubiquitous pathogen presence (94%), populations exposed to salt runoff had slightly more frequent ranavirus related mass mortality events, more lethal infections, and 117-times greater pathogen environmental DNA. Experimental exposure to chronic elevated salinity (0.8-1.6 g/L Cl-) reduced tolerance to infection, causing greater mortality at lower doses. We found a strong negative relationship between splenocyte proliferation and corticosterone in ranavirus-infected larvae at a moderate elevation of salinity, supporting glucocorticoid-medicated immunosuppression, but not at high salinity. Salinity alone reduced proliferation further at similar corticosterone levels and infection intensities. Finally, larvae raised in elevated salinity had 10-times more intense infections and shed 5-times as much virus with similar viral decay rates, suggesting increased transmission. Our findings illustrate how a small change in habitat quality leads to more lethal infections and potentially greater transmission efficiency, increasing the severity of ranavirus epidemics.


Sigma Xi, Award: Grants in Aid of Research

Environmental Protection Agency, Award: EPA STAR 91767901

Washington State University, Award: Undergraduate Research Minigrant

Division of Environmental Biology, Award: 1139199