, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 156-163

Ribeiroia Infection Is Not Responsible for Vermont Amphibian Deformities

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Abstract

Reports of limb deformities in amphibians have garnered wide notice from scientists and the public alike. Recent laboratory and field research has supported the hypothesis that infection by the helminth parasite, Ribeiroia ondatrae, is associated with deformities, particularly in the western United States. In this study, observational and experimental evidence from eastern United States (Vermont) provides evidence that Ribeiroia is absent from a large sample of sites including those with a history of relatively high frequencies of deformity, that the composition of deformities is distinct from that associated with experimental infection by Ribeiroia, and that the composition of limb deformities seen in natural populations in Vermont is typical of that reported in the literature. We suggest that while Ribeiroia has been shown to be responsible for deformities in some species and locations, other factors may be responsible where the composition of deformities is inconsistent with patterns resulting from known Ribeiroia infection.