Microbial ecology of developing southern toads, spring peepers, and narrow-mouthed toads
Fedewa, Luke Anthony
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Anurans are model indicators of environmental quality by way of their complex and diverse ecologies. Numerous microorganisms have both pathological and non-pathological interactions with anurans. In addition, drastic changes occur during amphibian metamorphosis and may provide a period of increased susceptibility to environmental stressors and pathogens. The enteric bacterial communities from Gastrophryne carolinensis, Bufo terrestris and Pseudacris crucifer were quantified and analyzed during larval development, metamorphosis, and adulthood (B. terrestris only) to examine their ecological relationships. Higher levels of enteric Gram-negative bacteria were observed during metamorphosis in each species’ intestines and higher bacteria loads were noticed in smaller metamorphosing B. terrestris. The results indicate that an ecological relationship occurs between anurans and their enteric microflora. The relationship may become problematic if the environments in which anurans metamorphose are altered. In addition, the microbiological environments may also play a role in shaping the ecologies of developing anurans.