, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 222–234 | Cite as

Pathogen Dynamics in an Invasive Frog Compared to Native Species

  • Brenda Rivera
  • Katrina Cook
  • Kimberly Andrews
  • Matthew S. Atkinson
  • Anna E. SavageEmail author
Original Contribution


Emerging infectious diseases threaten the survival of wildlife populations and species around the world. In particular, amphibians are experiencing population declines and species extinctions primarily in response to two pathogens, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and the iridovirus Ranavirus (Rv). Here, we use field surveys and quantitative (q)PCR to compare infection intensity and prevalence of Bd and Rv across species and seasons on Jekyll Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, USA. We collected oral and skin swabs for 1 year from four anuran species and three families, including two native hylids (Hyla cinerea and Hyla squirella), a native ranid (Rana sphenocephala), and the invasive rain frog Eleutherodactylus planirostris. Bd infection dynamics did not vary significantly over sampling months, but Rv prevalence and intensity were significantly higher in fall 2014 compared to spring 2015. Additionally, Rv prevalence and intensity were significantly higher in E. planirostris than in the other three species. Our study highlights the potential role of invasive amphibians as drivers of disease dynamics and demonstrates the importance of pathogen surveillance across multiple time periods and species to accurately capture the infectious disease landscape.


Amplification host Eleutherodactylus planirostris Emerging infectious diseases Invasive species Seasonality 



We would like to thank Ethan Berman whose young passion for the health of amphibian populations inspired the design and financial support for this project. Ethan contacted Dr. Kimberly Andrews [author and then Research Coordinator at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC)] in 2013 with a request for an internship to start an amphibian project. Dr. Terry Norton, DVM and GSTC Director, led the design on the sampling protocols for swab collection and issued the training for field personnel. We further thank the Jekyll Island Foundation for receiving private donations that made this project possible and for administering those funds. Personnel support was issued by the Jekyll Island Authority Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and field sampling was conducted by AmeriCorps members (Rick Bauer, Justin Fowler, Katie Parson, Hannah Royal, Sloane Wiggers, Miranda Miller, Kristin Hay, and Lindsey Gordon) who conducted their terms of service with the GSTC, including author KWC. Specifically, we thank Lisa Harrelson and Joseph Colbert who were instrumental in the design and the launch of field sampling in the first year of the project. We thank interns from the College of Coastal Georgia (Nicole DeSha), the University of Boston (Lucy McGinnis), the University of Georgia (Ethan Cooper), and the University of Georgia graduate students Darren Fraser, Lance Paden, and Davide Zailo who assisted AmeriCorps members and GSTC staff in field surveys and sample preservation. We also thank the University of Central Florida’s EXCEL and RAMP programs and the AAP department for their financial support throughout this project, members of the Savage Lab for providing valuable feedback on this manuscript, Ariel Horner for training, and Veronica Urgiles for assistance with ArcGIS.

Supplementary material

10393_2019_1432_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)
10393_2019_1432_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 27 kb)
10393_2019_1432_MOESM3_ESM.txt (278 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (TXT 278 kb)


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Copyright information

© EcoHealth Alliance 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenda Rivera
    • 1
  • Katrina Cook
    • 2
  • Kimberly Andrews
    • 3
  • Matthew S. Atkinson
    • 1
  • Anna E. Savage
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.Wyoming Natural Diversity DatabaseUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  3. 3.Odum School of EcologyUniversity of Georgia, UGA Marine ExtensionBrunswickUSA

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