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    P1: SSAR Rabb Award

    2021-07-26   16:00 - 18:00

    To view the posters go to You will be able to chat one-on-one during the Monday poster session, the e-poster platform.

    1.  16:00  Distribution modeling of Onychodactylus koreanus predicts drastic decrease of suitable habitats in response to climate change. Yucheol Shin*, Laboratory of Animal Behaviour and Conservation, College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University; Mi-Sook Min, Research Institute for Veterinary Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University; Amaël Borzée, Laboratory of Animal Behaviour and Conservation, College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University

    Climate change is one of the major threats to global amphibian diversity, and consequently the species distribution is expected to shift considerably in the future. Therefore, predicting such shifts is important to guide conservation and management plans. Here, we used eight independent environmental variables and four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to model the current and future habitat suitability of the Korean clawed salamander (Onychodactylus koreanus). Maximum entropy models of current habitat suitability were highly consistent with known distribution and had good predictive performance. Projections onto years 2050 and 2070 predicted northeastward habitat suitability shifts into higher elevation areas and a drastic decrease in both suitable and optimal area in response to climate change. While our models estimated up to 87 % decrease of suitable area and 99% decrease in optimal area, they also predicted a persistence of suitability in the central portion of the Baekdudaegan range. This area is the eastern edge of the current suitable area, it is likely to be a climate refugia for the species in the future, and it should be considered as an area of conservation priority. The putatively detrimental effects of climate change coupled with the additive threats of other environmental stressors pose serious conservation concerns for this species. Therefore, we urge further ecological studies and population monitoring to be conducted across the range of O. koreanus. The vulnerability to rapid climate change is also shared by other congeneric species, and assessing such threats is needed to better conserve this unique lineage of salamanders.

    2.  16:00  Do Buildings and Caging Alter Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchling Mortality from Predators on the West Coast of Florida? Aileen Lavelle*, University of California, Berkeley

    My goal was to determine the role predation, caging and buildings have on Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nest hatching success.Predators, primarily raccoons, and armadillos can easily consumethemajority of sea turtle eggs in a season, causing reduced recruitment of hatchlings and ultimately resulting in longer-term decreases in adult Loggerhead populations. Using Loggerhead nesting data collected by Mote Marine Laboratory from 2010-2020 on Longboat and Casey Keys, near Sarasota, Florida, I created a heat map indicating which spatial factors led to differential hatchling mortality. Nests further from the building, nests near high-rises, nests on Casey Key, and nests found during later years of data collection (2018-2020) were more likely to be depredated. Caging of sea turtle nests before or after the first predation resulted in higher hatching rates than nests that were not caged. Hatching success was significantly higher in caged nests when there were raccoons, no predators, or other predators. The findings of this study indicate that as more people move to the U.S. coast and develop these areas, important considerations must be made in relation to altering the natural habitat. Zoning and permits, therefore, have important repercussions on coastal species, particularly in the recruitment of sea turtles, as high-rises and buildings close to nests have been shown to have a negative effect on hatching success. In addition, the implementation of caging assists in sea turtle egg and hatchling survival, andthis management practice should be implemented everywhere Loggerhead nests occur.

    3.  16:00  Variance in Chromatophore Reflectance of Plethodon cinereus. Tia Judy*, Lock Haven University; Andy Kraemer, Creighton University; Jennifer Deitloff, Lock Haven University

    Changes in pigmentation in amphibians are due to a variety of factors, making it a suitable topic for scientific research. Polymorphism is especially common in amphibians. For example, Plethodon cinereus can be found in a variety of color morphs. Two specific morphs are more frequently expressed in P. cinereusthan the other morphs: the striped morph, which has a red stripe down the middle of the back, and the unstriped morph, which lacks the stripe. In this study, we examined the differences in reflectance of chromatophores between these two morphs. We collected salamanders from a forested area in Central Pennsylvania. We collected reflectance data for each salamander using an Ocean Optics reflectance spectrophotometer. We performed multivariate analysis of variance, with sex and morph as our independent variables. We determined that there was a significant difference in reflectance between striped and unstriped morphs across the red wavelength spectrum (645-700 nm). Additionally, we found that reflectance did not differ between morphs when compared across all wavelengths. There was no significant difference in reflectance between males and females across either red wavelengths or all wavelengths. In the future, we hope to expand this research to determine across the red wavelength spectrum changes over time, as might be the case if salamanders become more melanistic over time. Color changes could reflect changes in environmental pressures, or how their habitats impact morph frequencies over time.

    4.  16:00  Chronic Stress Results in Lighter Tadpole Coloration in Northern Leopard Frog Tadpoles. Midelys Franceschini*, Moravian College; Sara Woodley, Duquesne University; Sara J McClelland, Moravian College

    Amphibian populations worldwide are in danger of extinction. Many of the ecological threats they face have been shown to increase the concentration of corticosterone, the main stress hormone in amphibians. Monitoring corticosterone can provide information on habitat quality and amphibian population health. Traditional methods of measuring stress in amphibians are lethal or invasive, which can impact already declining population numbers. Previous studies in birds and fish showed a change in pigmentation due to chronic stress. This study aimed to determine if skin color changes due to stress in tadpoles. We hypothesized that chronically stressed tadpoles would be lighter in color. Tadpoles were exposed to either exogenous corticosterone or a vehicle control for three weeks. Live tadpoles were qualitatively assessed for coloration. After euthanasia with MS-222, tadpoles were stored in 10% neutral buffered formalin; images were then taken of tadpole bodies and brightness was assessed using ImageJ. Tadpoles with higher cort concentrations were more likely to have lighter pigmentation than controls. This phenomenon was observed in live tadpoles as well as in tadpoles that had been euthanized, suggesting that increased cort concentrations cause a change in the amount of melanosome pigments. The fitness effects of this color change are likely dependent on tadpole environment. However, a decrease in pigmentation may make tadpoles more visible to predators, impacting their chance of survival in areas with decreased habitat quality. Further, this study provides evidence that skin coloration could potentially be used as a non-invasive method to monitor tadpole stress levels in nature.

    5.  16:00  Plant Leachates Impact Amphibian Infection with a Fungal Pathogen. Emily Martin*, Purdue University; Spencer Siddons, Purdue University; Paradyse Blackwood, Purdue University; Jessica Hua, Binghamton University; Catherine Searle, Purdue University

    Changes to the natural world, including the anthropogenic spread of invasive species to vulnerable areas, are increasingly concerning, especially within aquatic ecosystems. For example, invasive plant species can introduce novel leaf litter into freshwater habitats which can alter water conditions, impacting ecological interactions. While leaf litter is known to affect aquatic organisms by releasing chemical compounds into the water (i.e., creating “leachate”), the effects of leachates on infectious disease remain relatively unexplored. Within aquatic systems, the emergence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a fungal pathogen, has contributed to global amphibian declines and extinctions. We tested if leaf litter leachates from native or invasive plants affected Bd infection due to the effects of leachates on Bd growth and tadpole hosts. We predicted that leachates would diminish Bd infectivity and host susceptibility, with more pronounced effects by invasive plant species’ leachates compared to those of native species. American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) tadpoles were individually infected with Bd in one of six leachates (3 native, 3 invasive) for 7 days. We then quantified infection status and load and measured tadpole mortality, growth, and development across treatments. When compared to native leachates, our results show that invasive leaf litter caused increased and more severe Bd infection in tadpole hosts. These findings indicate a need for further insight on the role of plant material in freshwater disease.

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