Experimental examination of the effects of ultraviolet-B radiation in combination with other stressors on frog larvae
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- Searle, C.L., Belden, L.K., Bancroft, B.A. et al. Oecologia (2010) 162: 237. doi:10.1007/s00442-009-1440-8
Ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB) is a ubiquitous stressor with negative effects on many aquatic organisms. In amphibians, ambient levels of UVB can result in impaired growth, slowed development, malformations, altered behavior and mortality. UVB can also interact with other environmental stressors to amplify these negative effects on individuals. In outdoor mesocosm and laboratory experiments we studied potential synergistic effects of UVB, a pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and varying temperatures on larval Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae). First, we compared survivorship, growth and development in two mesocosm experiments with UVB- and Bd-exposure treatments. We then investigated the effects of UVB on larvae in the laboratory under two temperature regimes, monitoring survival and behavior. We found reduced survival of R. cascadae larvae with exposure to UVB radiation in all experiments. In the mesocosm experiments, growth and development were not affected in either treatment, and no effect of Bd was found. In the laboratory experiment, larvae exposed to UVB demonstrated decreased activity levels. We also found a trend towards reduced survival when UVB and cold temperatures were combined. Our results show that amphibian larvae can suffer both lethal and sublethal effects when exposed to UVB radiation.