Sunday, 25 November 2018

Frogs breed young to beat virus

November 20, 2018, University of Exeter
Frogs from groups exposed to a deadly virus are breeding at younger ages, new research suggests.
Scientists studying European common frogs in the UK compared groups ("populations") exposed to ranavirus and those free from the disease.
While the youngest breeding frogs in disease-free populations are four years old, frogs in virus-exposed groups breed as young as two.
The reasons for this are not yet clear, but the team—led by researchers from the University of Exeter and the Zoological Society of London—warn that this decrease in breeding age means disease-exposed populations are at greater risk of local extinction sparked by environmental changes.
Frogs gather at breeding spots such as ponds and then disperse, but most return to the same ponds year after year.
"Our research shows that the ages of the frogs that return to breed varies between populations which are known to have ranavirus and those which don't," said Dr. Lewis Campbell, who conducted the research during his Ph.D. at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
"We found significantly fewer old frogs and significantly more young frogs at populations which have ranavirus.
"It's possible that the more times an older frog returns to the same infected breeding pond, the more likely they are to become diseased and die.

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