Presentation Title

Investigating the Relationship Between Biodiversity and Ranavirus in Vermont Amphibians

Project Collaborators

Lauren Ash (Graduate Student Mentor)

Abstract

There is no doubt that amphibians have been experiencing large population and habitat declines in past years. In neighboring New York state, the Frog Virus 3 (FV3) strain of Ranavirus has been linked to massive recurrent die-offs among amphibian species. These major declines are concerning because of the subsequent biodiversity loss within communities. Diverse host communities act as a strong barrier towards infection since viruses are unable to spread as rapidly among high genetic diversity. In a more diverse environment, pathogens are forced to evolve new traits to help overcome the wide range of defense systems present. Because of this, it is essential that amphibian communities maintain high biodiversity to prevent massive ranavirus outbreak. The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between ranavirus and biodiversity within different amphibian communities. Based on a range of species present as well as ranavirus prevalence, twelve previously established ranavirus sites were chosen for tissue collection. At each site, thirty amphibians were captured using dip nets and placed in temporary containment. Researchers remained on-site until thirty samples had been collected. Tail or toe samples were extracted depending on amphibian life stage. The tissue was collected and stored in ethanol and later processed for DNA extraction. Quantitative PCR was used to determine the amount of virus present in each sample. Simpson’s Diversity Index, PIE, and Fisher’s Exact Test were used to determine ranavirus presence and strength at each site as well as species abundance. It is expected that biodiversity will be significantly lower at sites with larger ranavirus prevalence due to its impact on susceptible species. It is also expected that there will be greater biodiversity and different amphibian compositions at sites with a lower ranavirus prevalence.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Nicholas Gotelli

Secondary Mentor NetID

lvash

Secondary Mentor Name

Lauren Ash

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Investigating the Relationship Between Biodiversity and Ranavirus in Vermont Amphibians

There is no doubt that amphibians have been experiencing large population and habitat declines in past years. In neighboring New York state, the Frog Virus 3 (FV3) strain of Ranavirus has been linked to massive recurrent die-offs among amphibian species. These major declines are concerning because of the subsequent biodiversity loss within communities. Diverse host communities act as a strong barrier towards infection since viruses are unable to spread as rapidly among high genetic diversity. In a more diverse environment, pathogens are forced to evolve new traits to help overcome the wide range of defense systems present. Because of this, it is essential that amphibian communities maintain high biodiversity to prevent massive ranavirus outbreak. The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between ranavirus and biodiversity within different amphibian communities. Based on a range of species present as well as ranavirus prevalence, twelve previously established ranavirus sites were chosen for tissue collection. At each site, thirty amphibians were captured using dip nets and placed in temporary containment. Researchers remained on-site until thirty samples had been collected. Tail or toe samples were extracted depending on amphibian life stage. The tissue was collected and stored in ethanol and later processed for DNA extraction. Quantitative PCR was used to determine the amount of virus present in each sample. Simpson’s Diversity Index, PIE, and Fisher’s Exact Test were used to determine ranavirus presence and strength at each site as well as species abundance. It is expected that biodiversity will be significantly lower at sites with larger ranavirus prevalence due to its impact on susceptible species. It is also expected that there will be greater biodiversity and different amphibian compositions at sites with a lower ranavirus prevalence.