Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Disease Threat May Change How Frogs Mate

Date:
August 31, 2009
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
A disease may be causing a behavioral change in frogs. The research has unearthed a surprising fact about our long-tongued friends: wild frogs in the UK may be changing their mating behavior.

Dr Amber Teacher, studying a post-doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London, has discovered evidence that a disease may be causing a behavioural change in frogs. The research, published in the August edition of ‘Molecular Ecology’, has unearthed a surprising fact about our long-tongued friends: wild frogs in the UK may be changing their mating behaviour.

Dr Teacher conducted her research with colleagues from the Institute of Zoology and Queen Mary, University of London. The research followed concerns over the survival of wild frog populations in the UK. Ranavirus, which had its first reported case in England in the early 1980s, is one of many pathogens ravaging the amphibian community.

Dr Teacher’s pioneering new research looks at the genetic make-up of populations, and indicates that wild frog populations that have been infected with this virus may be choosing mates differently to those in healthy populations.

As Ranavirus is typically associated with heavy death tolls in infected populations, there are often few frogs left alive to mate. This frequently leads to inbreeding, which causes an increase in relatedness in the population. However, Dr Teacher has uncovered startling results; finding that despite inbreeding there has been no subsequent increase in relatedness in these populations.

Dr Teacher’s conclusion is that this lack of relatedness has been caused by a change in the frogs’ mating strategy. With diseased frogs struggling to mate, healthy frogs are likely to be mating more often with other healthy frogs, leaving diseased frogs to mate with each other. These frogs could also be selecting mates based on their Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) type; a group of genes directly involved with the animal’s immune system. As the common frog is generally thought to mate randomly, this is a major shift in the frogs’ mating behaviour.

Active mate choice based on MHC type is not uncommon in other species, with research indicating that a number of vertebrates, including humans, may use it to choose prospective mates, and improve their immunity to diseases.

‘The situation requires directed behavioural research’, says Dr Teacher. This discovery could re-shape the way we look at disease management in animals. If such behavioural effects from diseases are widespread, it is likely they have been overlooked in the past, meaning we may be forced to reconsider how such diseases impact on animals. Whilst Ranavirus has been researched in specific relation to population dynamics, Dr Teacher has exposed previously unknown effects that require further investigation.

Dr Teacher believes the next step is to observe these wild frogs over the coming years. ‘The world of wildlife disease research would benefit greatly from such long-term investigations, allowing us to see how the host and the pathogen respond to each other over time’, ‘It would also shed further light on whether Ranavirus does indeed cause observable behavioural changes’, she explains. Further research may also bring us closer to knowing if this new mating strategy could lead to wild frogs in the UK developing immunity to Ranavirus.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Teacher et al. Population genetic patterns suggest a behavioural change in wild common frogs (Rana temporaria) following disease outbreaks (Ranavirus). Molecular Ecology, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04263.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Disease Threat May Change How Frogs Mate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727080834.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2009, August 31). Disease Threat May Change How Frogs Mate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727080834.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Disease Threat May Change How Frogs Mate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727080834.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins