Effects of Road De-Icing Salts on Two Amphibian Species, Rana Sylvatica and Rana Pipiens, and Their Trematode Parasites
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 07:51 by Dino Milotic
With ongoing amphibian declines, it is essential to determine possible contributors such as diseases and environmental contaminants that may increase susceptibility. A potential contaminant is road salt (mainly NaCl), which leaches into aquatic environments. I examined whether road salts make larval amphibians (tadpoles) more susceptible to trematode parasite infection, and also how these affect free-living trematode infectious stages (cercariae). I exposed Rana sylvatica (wood frogs) and R. pipiens (northern leopard frogs) to control, medium (400 mg/L), and high salt (800 mg/L) treatments, and then to trematodes. High salt tended to reduce wood frog anti-parasite behaviour and resistance to infection but the opposite was seen for R. pipiens, although these tadpoles had elevated lymphocyte counts in high salinity. Trematodes were differentially affected by increased salinities. The results suggest that host-parasite-environment interactions are complex, with species differentially affected by contaminants, which may lead to community shifts in predominant hosts and parasite species.