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Data from: Elevated salinity blocks pathogen transmission and improves host survival for a globally pandemic disease: implications for amphibian translocations

Citation

Clulow, Simon et al. (2017), Data from: Elevated salinity blocks pathogen transmission and improves host survival for a globally pandemic disease: implications for amphibian translocations, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.r0904

Abstract

1. Emerging infectious diseases are one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity. Chytridiomycosis in amphibians is perhaps the most extreme example of this phenomenon known to science. Translocations are increasingly used to fight disease-induced extinctions. However, many programs fail because disease is still present or subsequently establishes in the translocation environment. There is a need for studies in real-world scenarios to test whether environmental manipulation could improve survival in populations by generating unfavourable environmental conditions for pathogens. Reintroductions of amphibians impacted by chytridiomycosis into environments where the disease persists provide a scenario where this paradigm can be tested. 2. We tested the hypothesis that manipulating environmental salinity in outdoor mesocosms under near identical environmental conditions applying in a nearby translocation program for an endangered amphibian, would improve survival and determine the mechanisms involved. 160 infected and 288 uninfected, captive-bred, juvenile frogs were released into 16 outdoor mesocosms in which salinity was controlled (high or low salinity treatment). The experiment was run for 25 weeks from the mid-austral winter to the mid-austral summer of 2013 in a temperate coastal environment, Australia. 3. Increasing salinity from ca. 0.5 ppt to 3.5 - 4.5 ppt reduced pathogen transmission between infected and uninfected animals, resulting in significantly reduced mortality in elevated salt mesocosms (0.13, high salt versus 0.23, low salt survival at 23 weeks). Increasing water temperature associated with season (from mean 13oC to 25oC) eventually cleared all surviving animals of the pathogen. 4. Synthesis and applications. We identified a mechanism by which environmental salinity can protect amphibian hosts from chytridomycosis by reducing disease transmission rates and conclude that manipulating environmental salinity in landscapes where chytrid-affected amphibians are currently translocated could improve the probability of population persistence for hundreds of species. More broadly, we provide support for the paradigm that environmental manipulation can be used to mitigate the impact of emerging infectious diseases.18-Sep-2017

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