Amphibians suffer from large-scale population declines globally, and emerging infectious diseases contribute heavily to these declines. Amphibian Perkinsea (hereafter Pr) is a worldwide anuran pathogen associated with mortality events, yet little is known about its overall impact on amphibian populations and species. Thus, we sought to determine the epidemiological patterns of Pr across individual hosts, populations, communities, and the overall landscape. To accomplish this, we conducted two field-based and one experimentally-based study to identify specific factors that contribute to pathogen prevalence, infection intensity, and overall disease outcomes for Pr in individuals and populations. We collected 1973 total anurans across the two field chapters of this dissertation with 32% of individuals infected with Pr in more "natural" habitats while 8.8% of individuals were infected with Pr in the urban Xenopus tropicalis invasion range. We identified that co-variates including co-infection status, host species, host life stage, sampling month, and sampling site explained much of the variability of infection status within individuals and sites. In the experimental infection studies, we identified that host susceptibility to Pr varied significantly by species, but sub-lethal impacts may still occur in tolerant species. This study is the first to establish epidemiological patterns of Pr across space, time, and host species and fills knowledge gaps in our understanding of how invasive species alter pathogen dynamics. Ultimately, this work highlights the need for ongoing monitoring, experimental studies, and mitigation efforts to address the challenges pathogens pose to amphibian biodiversity.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Conservation Biology; Integrative Biology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Atkinson, Matthew, "Impacts of the Protist Pathogen Amphibian Perkinsea on Amphibian Species and Communities" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1862.
Restricted to the UCF community until August 2024; it will then be open access.