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Amphibian species vary in their learned avoidance response to the deadly fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
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  • Taegan McMahon,
  • Megan Hill,
  • Garrett Lentz,
  • Electra Scott,
  • Nadia Tenouri,
  • Jason R. Rohr
Taegan McMahon
University of Tampa
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Megan Hill
University of Tampa
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Garrett Lentz
University of South Florida
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Electra Scott
University of Tampa
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Nadia Tenouri
University of South Florida
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Jason R. Rohr
Univ S Florida
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Abstract

Abstract: Lethal and sublethal effects of pathogens should theoretically select for host avoidance of these organisms. Oak toads, for example, learn to avoid the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) after one infection-clearance event. Here, we investigated whether four taxonomically distinct amphibians, Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), southern toads (Bufo terrestris), greenhouse frogs (Eleutherodactylus planirostris), and pine woods treefrogs (Hyla femoralis) were also able to learn to avoid Bd and, if so, what cues they used to identify Bd. Cuban treefrogs, pine woods treefrogs, and greenhouse frogs did not appear to exhibit detectable innate or learned avoidance of Bd. However, southern toads learned to avoid Bd after only one exposure. Southern toads avoided any treatment containing Bd metabolites but did not avoid treatments that lacked Bd metabolites even when dead zoospores were present. Bd metabolites include digestive enzymes that breakdown host tissue and appear to be the cues that amphibians use to avoid Bd, which is consistent with a Classical or Pavlovian Conditioning response. It appears that not all species respond the same way to Bd, which is important information when developing disease models and conservation plans for amphibians.