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Study predicts ranavirus as potential new culprit in amphibian extinctions
Date:7/9/2014

KNOXVILLEAmphibian declines and extinctions around the world have been linked to an emerging fungal disease called chytridiomycosis, but new research from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) shows that another pathogen, ranavirus, may also contribute.

In a series of mathematical models, researchers showed that ranavirus, which causes severe hemorrhage of internal organs in frogs, could cause extinction of isolated populations of wood frogs if they are exposed to the virus every few years, a scenario that has been documented in wild populations.

The most widely distributed amphibian species in North America, wood frogs have been shown to be highly susceptible to ranavirus infection, particularly as tadpoles. But little research has been done into how ranavirus affects frogs at all stages of their life cycle from egg to hatchling to tadpole to metamorph, the stage when they emerge as frogs. Little is also known about how the infection could hasten extinction in entire populations.

The study, published in the journal EcoHealth, investigates the effect of ranavirus on the entire life cycle of wood frogs in demographically isolated populations, where there is no movement of frogs into the population from surrounding areas.

The study used mathematical simulations based on long-term data sets from wild populations of wood frogs in eastern United States and laboratory data on the effects of ranavirus. It determined that the life stage during which a frog was exposed to ranavirus was one of the most important factors in determining extinction and declines.

Extinction was most likely to occur when the tadpole or metamorph was exposed to ranavirus at frequent intervals in small populations. Under the worst-case scenario, extinction could occur in as quickly as five years with exposure every year and 25-44 years with exposure every two years.

The egg stage had a 57 percent
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Contact: Catherine Crawley
ccrawley@nimbios.org
865-974-9350
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
Source:Eurekalert  

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