Matching Items (10)

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Phenotypic Plasticity and Early Life Cycle Development of the Chytrid Fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Description

The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has captured human attention because it is a pathogen that has contributed to global amphibian declines. Despite increased research, much is still unknown

The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has captured human attention because it is a pathogen that has contributed to global amphibian declines. Despite increased research, much is still unknown about how it develops. For example, the fact that Bd exhibits phenotypic plasticity during development was only recently identified. In this thesis, the causes of phenotypic plasticity in Bd are tested by exposing the fungus to different substrates, including powdered frog skin and keratin, which seems to play an important role in the fungus's colonization of amphibian epidermis. A novel swelling structure emerging from Bd germlings developed when exposed to keratin and frog skin. This swelling has not been observed in Bd grown in laboratory cultures before, and it is possible that it is analogous to the germ tube Bd develops in vivo. Growth of the swelling suggests that keratin plays a role in the phenotypic plasticity expressed by Bd.

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  • 2016-05

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A Tale of Two Canyons: Abiotic factors and the distribution of a pathogenic fungus in southeastern Arizona

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Chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has played a significant role in global amphibian declines. Researchers studying Bd aim to gain a better

Chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has played a significant role in global amphibian declines. Researchers studying Bd aim to gain a better understanding of how this pathogen survives in unique microhabitats to promote persistence of amphibians in their natural habitat. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has worked for the last 12 years to recover populations of Chiricahua Leopard Frogs to ensure the species survives in the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona. During this time, the department tested for Bd throughout their release sites. As a result of large differences in prevalence noted in prior sampling for Bd in Miller and Ramsey canyons, I investigated abiotic factors that could explain these differences. I analyzed water samples from two canyons in the Huachuca Mountains and used nutrient analysis and filter extraction to test for differences in abiotic factors between these two sites that could affect Bd transmission. Results show that Ramsey Canyon was a positive site for Bd, while Miller Canyon remained negative. Results from water temperature estimates as well as a test for 30 elements revealed possible reasons for differences in Bd transmission between the two canyons.

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Date Created
  • 2017-05

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The Ineffective Cure Hepatitis C and the Drug That Never Got Its Chance

Description

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that affects 71 million people worldwide and causes liver failure and death if untreated. In 2013, a direct acting antiviral drug, sofosbuvir, revolutionized treatment

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that affects 71 million people worldwide and causes liver failure and death if untreated. In 2013, a direct acting antiviral drug, sofosbuvir, revolutionized treatment of the disease. Sofosbuvir showed immense promise, but the high price point at which it was launched created access barriers that prevented it from reaching its full public health potential. By 2016, fewer than 1% of Hepatitis C patients worldwide had received treatment. In the United States (US), concerns about the cost of the drug led public and private payers to implement rationing and treatment restrictions that prevented some of the most vulnerable populations from accessing Hepatitis C treatment at all. Through interviews with researchers, patients and providers, and a literature review of grants, patents, papers, court documents, and news articles, I examine the history of sofosbuvir with attention to the ways in which federal funding practices and intellectual property law encouraged the high initial pricing of the drug. I then examine the impact of this drug on healthcare systems in the United States and abroad, and discuss how the fragmented nature of the United States healthcare system has exacerbated price-based barriers to access. Finally, I discuss intellectual property laws as potential mechanisms to increase access. My study underscores how the political reluctance to use well-established federal funding and intellectual property laws has resulted in a drug development system that delivers medications that are so highly priced that the fragmented US healthcare system cannot compensate for the expense. This leads to low access and poor public health outcomes, and a continued failure to contain or control diseases for which effective therapies exist.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Ecology of chytridiomycosis in boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata)

Description

Infectious diseases have emerged as a significant threat to wildlife. Environmental change is often implicated as an underlying factor driving this emergence. With this recent rise in disease emergence and

Infectious diseases have emerged as a significant threat to wildlife. Environmental change is often implicated as an underlying factor driving this emergence. With this recent rise in disease emergence and the acceleration of environmental change, it is important to identify the environmental factors that alter host-pathogen dynamics and their underlying mechanisms. The emerging pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a clear example of the negative effects infectious diseases can have on wildlife. Bd is linked to global declines in amphibian diversity and abundance. However, there is considerable variation in population-level responses to Bd, with some hosts experiencing marked declines while others persist. Environmental factors may play a role in this variation. This research used populations of pond-breeding chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata) in Arizona to test if three rapidly changing environmental factors nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and temperature influence the presence, prevalence, and severity of Bd infections. I evaluated the reliability of a new technique for detecting Bd in water samples and combined this technique with animal sampling to monitor Bd in wild chorus frogs. Monitoring from 20 frog populations found high Bd presence and prevalence during breeding. A laboratory experiment found 85% adult mortality as a result of Bd infection; however, estimated chorus frog densities in wild populations increased significantly over two years of sampling despite high Bd prevalence. Presence, prevalence, and severity of Bd infections were not correlated with aqueous concentrations of N or P. There was, however, support for an annual temperature-induced reduction in Bd prevalence in newly metamorphosed larvae. A simple mathematical model suggests that this annual temperature-induced reduction of Bd infections in larvae in combination with rapid host maturation may help chorus frog populations persist despite high adult mortality. These results demonstrate that Bd can persist across a wide range of environmental conditions, providing little support for the influence of N and P on Bd dynamics, and show that water temperature may play an important role in altering Bd dynamics, enabling chorus frogs to persist with this pathogen. These findings demonstrate the importance of environmental context and host life history for the outcome of host-pathogen interactions.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Indirect Effects of Omnivorous Crayfish on Semiarid Stream Macroinvertebrate Communities Mediated by Novel Riparian Vegetation

Description

Novel resource inputs represent an increasingly common phenomenon in ecological systems as global change alters environmental factors and species distributions. In semiarid riparian areas, hydric pioneer tree species are being

Novel resource inputs represent an increasingly common phenomenon in ecological systems as global change alters environmental factors and species distributions. In semiarid riparian areas, hydric pioneer tree species are being replaced by drought-tolerant species as water availability decreases. Additionally, introduced omnivorous crayfish, which feed upon primary producers, allochthonous detritus, and benthic invertebrates, can impact communities at multiple levels through both direct and indirect effects. In arid and semiarid systems of the American Southwest, crayfish may be especially important as detrital processors due to the lack of specialized detritivores. I tested the impact of virile crayfish (Orconectes virilis) on benthic invertebrates and detrital resources across a gradient of riparian vegetation drought-tolerance using field cages with leaf litter bags in the San Pedro River in Southeastern Arizona. Virile crayfish increased breakdown rate of drought-tolerant saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima), but did not impact breakdown of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), Gooding's willow (Salix goodingii), or seepwillow (Baccharis salicifolia). The density and composition of the invertebrate community colonizing leaf litter bags were both heavily influenced by litter species but not directly by crayfish presence. As drought-tolerant species become more abundant in riparian zones, their litter will become a larger component of the organic matter budget of desert streams. By increasing breakdown rates of saltcedar, crayfish shift the composition of leaf litter in streams, which in turn may affect the composition and biomass of colonizing invertebrate communities. More research is needed to determine the full extent to which these alterations change community composition over time.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Three perspectives on multilevel selection: an experimental, historical, and synthetic analysis of group-level selection

Description

During the 1960s, the long-standing idea that traits or behaviors could be

explained by natural selection acting on traits that persisted "for the good of the group" prompted a series of

During the 1960s, the long-standing idea that traits or behaviors could be

explained by natural selection acting on traits that persisted "for the good of the group" prompted a series of debates about group-level selection and the effectiveness with which natural selection could act at or across multiple levels of biological organization. For some this topic remains contentious, while others consider the debate settled, even while disagreeing about when and how resolution occurred, raising the question: "Why have these debates continued?"

Here I explore the biology, history, and philosophy of the possibility of natural selection operating at levels of biological organization other than the organism by focusing on debates about group-level selection that have occurred since the 1960s. In particular, I use experimental, historical, and synthetic methods to review how the debates have changed, and whether different uses of the same words and concepts can lead to different interpretations of the same experimental data.

I begin with the results of a group-selection experiment I conducted using the parasitoid wasp Nasonia, and discuss how the interpretation depends on how one conceives of and defines a "group." Then I review the history of the group selection controversy and argue that this history is best interpreted as multiple, interrelated debates rather than a single continuous debate. Furthermore, I show how the aspects of these debates that have changed the most are related to theoretical content and empirical data, while disputes related to methods remain largely unchanged. Synthesizing this material, I distinguish four different "approaches" to the study of multilevel selection based on the questions and methods used by researchers, and I use the results of the Nasonia experiment to discuss how each approach can lead to different interpretations of the same experimental data. I argue that this realization can help to explain why debates about group and multilevel selection have persisted for nearly sixty years. Finally, the conclusions of this dissertation apply beyond evolutionary biology by providing an illustration of how key concepts can change over time, and how failing to appreciate this fact can lead to ongoing controversy within a scientific field.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Effects of climate change and urban development on the distribution and conservation of vegetation in a Mediterranean type ecosystem

Description

Climate and land use change are projected to threaten biodiversity over the coming century. However, the combined effects of these threats on biodiversity and the capacity of current conservation networks

Climate and land use change are projected to threaten biodiversity over the coming century. However, the combined effects of these threats on biodiversity and the capacity of current conservation networks to protect species' habitat are not well understood. The goals of this study were to evaluate the effect of climate change and urban development on vegetation distribution in a Mediterranean-type ecosystem; to identify the primary source of uncertainty in suitable habitat predictions; and to evaluate how well conservation areas protect future habitat in the Southwest ecoregion of the California Floristic Province. I used a consensus-based modeling approach combining three different species distribution models to predict current and future suitable habitat for 19 plant species representing different plant functional types (PFT) defined by fire-response (obligate seeders, resprouting shrubs), and life forms (herbs, subshurbs). I also examined the response of species grouped by range sizes (large, small). I used two climate models, two emission scenarios, two thresholds, and high-resolution (90m resolution) environmental data to create a range of potential scenarios. I evaluated the effectiveness of an existing conservation network to protect suitable habitat for rare species in light of climate and land use change. The results indicate that the area of suitable habitat for each species varied depending on the climate model, emission scenario, and threshold combination. The suitable habitat for up to four species could disappear from the ecoregion, while suitable habitat for up to 15 other species could decrease under climate change conditions. The centroid of the species' suitable environmental conditions could shift up to 440 km. Large net gains in suitable habitat were predicted for a few species. The suitable habitat area for herbs has a small response to climate change, while obligate seeders could be the most affected PFT. The results indicate that the other two PFTs gain a considerable amount of suitable habitat area. Several rare species could lose suitable habitat area inside designated conservation areas while gaining suitable habitat area outside. Climate change is predicted to be more important than urban development as a driver of habitat loss for vegetation in this region in the coming century. These results indicate that regional analyses of this type are useful and necessary to understand the dynamics of drivers of change at the regional scale and to inform decision making at this scale.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Ecosystem Impacts of Consumer Evolution: Intraspecific Variation in the Elemental Phenotype of Aquatic Consumers

Description

Primary production in aquatic ecosystems is often limited by the availability of nitrogen (N) and/or phosphorus (P). Animals can substantially alter the relative availability of these nutrients by storing and

Primary production in aquatic ecosystems is often limited by the availability of nitrogen (N) and/or phosphorus (P). Animals can substantially alter the relative availability of these nutrients by storing and recycling them in differential ratios. Variation in these stoichiometric traits, i.e., the elemental phenotype, within a species can link organismal evolution to ecosystem function. I examined the drivers of intraspecific variation in the elemental phenotype of aquatic consumers to test for the generality of these effects. Over a thermal gradient in Panamá, I found that average specific growth grate and body P content of the mayfly Thraulodes increased with environmental temperature, but that these patterns were due to site-specific differences rather than the direct effects of warmer temperature. In a meta-analysis of published studies, I found that in fishes intraspecific variation in dietary N:P ratio had a significant effect on excretion N:P ratio, but only when accounting for consumption. I tested for the effects of variation in consumption on excretion N:P ratio among populations of the fish Gambusia marshi in the Cuatro Ciénegas basin in Coahuila, Mexico. G. marshi inhabits warm groundwater-fed springs where it often co-occurs with predatory fishes and cool runoff-dominated wetlands which lack predators. Using stoichiometric models, I generated predictions for how variation in environmental temperature and predation pressure would affect the N:P ratio recycled by fishes. Adult female G. marshi excretion N:P ratio was higher in runoff-dominated sites, which was consistent with predators driving increased consumption rates by G. marshi. This result was supported by a diet ration manipulation experiment in which G. marshi raised on an ad libitum diet excreted N:P at a lower ratio than fish raised on a restricted diet ration. To further support the impacts of predation on phenotypic diversification in G. marshi, I examined how body morphology varied among habitats and among closely related species. Both among and within species, predation had stronger effects on morphology than the physical environment. Overall, these results suggest that predation, not temperature, has strong effects on these phenotypic traits of aquatic consumers which can alter their role in ecosystem nutrient cycling through variation in consumption rates.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Chytridiomycosis in the direct-developing frogs of Puerto Rico

Description

Epidemiological theory normally does not predict host extinction from infectious disease because of a host density threshold below which pathogens cannot persist. However, host extinction can occur when a biotic

Epidemiological theory normally does not predict host extinction from infectious disease because of a host density threshold below which pathogens cannot persist. However, host extinction can occur when a biotic or abiotic pathogen reservoir allows for density-independent transmission. Amphibians are facing global population decline and extinction from the emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dentrobatidis (Bd). I use the model species Eleutherodactylus coqui to assess the impact of Bd on terrestrial direct-developing frog species, a common life history in the tropics. I tested the importance of two key factors that might influence this impact and then used laboratory experiments and published field data to model population-level impacts of Bd on E. coqui. First, I assessed the ontogenetic susceptibility of E. coqui by exposing juvenile and adult frogs to the same pathogen strain and dose. Juveniles exposed to Bd had significantly lower survival rates compared with control juveniles, while adult frogs often cleared infection. Second, I conducted experiments to determine whether E. coqui can become infected with Bd indirectly from contact with zoospores shed onto vegetation by an infected frog and from direct exposure to an infected frog. Both types of transmission were observed, making this the first demonstration that amphibians can become infected indirectly in non-aquatic habitats. Third, I tested the hypothesis that artificially-maintained cultures of Bd attenuate in pathogenicity, an effect known for other fungal pathogens. Comparing two cultures of the same Bd strain with different passage histories revealed reduced zoospore production and disease-induced mortality rates for a susceptible frog species (Atelopus zeteki) but not for the less-susceptible E. coqui. Finally, I used a mathematical model to project the population-level impacts of chytridiomycosis on E. coqui. Model analysis showed that indirect transmission, combined with either a high rate of zoospore production or low rate of zoospore mortality, is required for Bd to drive E. coqui populations below an extinction threshold. High rates of transmission plus frequent re-infection could lead to poor recruitment of infected juveniles and population decline. My research adds further insight into how emerging infectious disease is contributing to the loss of amphibian biodiversity.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Using Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum) to Explore the History of the Fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis as an Emerging Infectious Pathogen in Arizona

Description

Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in vulnerable populations are a proposed cause of reduced global biodiversity due to local and regional extinctions. Chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd),

Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in vulnerable populations are a proposed cause of reduced global biodiversity due to local and regional extinctions. Chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is affecting amphibian populations worldwide.

Chapter 1 of this thesis reports using lab-raised larval tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum), collected as eggs, to test if Bd infects them. Bd infects metamorphosed tiger salamanders; however, it is currently unknown if larvae can be infected by Bd. Adult frogs tend to host Bd on ventral surfaces and hind legs while tadpoles host Bd in keratinized mouthparts. No research has considered differences in infection between life stages of salamanders. It was hypothesized that Bd can colonize larvae in the same manner as metamorphosed animals. Larval salamanders were inoculated to test if Bd concentrations differ among body regions in larvae compared to metamorphosed salamanders. Larvae can carry Bd with the concentration of Bd varying between body region.

Chapter 2 report using native tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum), from northern Arizona and Bd as a study system to test if Bd is native or introduced to Arizona. It was hypothesized that Bd is not endemic to Arizona, but is introduced. There are multiple hypotheses regarding potential routes Bd may have traveled through Arizona and into Mexico. These hypotheses were tested using the Kaibab Plateau in Coconino County, Arizona, as a study site. The plateau is isolated from surrounding areas by the Grand Canyon to the south and the Vermillion Cliffs to the north serving as major biogeographical barriers. It is hypothesized that tiger salamanders are not dispersing into or out of the Kaibab Plateau due to geological restrictions. Bd, therefore, should not be present on salamanders on the Kaibab Plateau due to geological restriction. Tiger salamanders in stock tanks located on the Kaibab as well as preserved museum specimens housed in the Arizona State University Natural History Collection were sampled. The results indicate that Bd occurs at low levels on Kaibab Plateau tiger salamanders.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019