Widespread bacterial infection affecting Rana temporaria tadpoles in mountain areas

Rocco Tiberti

Abstract


Periodic mass die-offs of Rana temporaria tadpole populations have occurred in the ponds of prealpine mountain areas of Brescia (northern Italy) since the early 2000s. The author reports some observational data and analytical results from three sites: tadpoles from mortality events had erythema, especially on the legs, suggestive of septicemia. Bacterial culture of these tadpoles revealed Aeromonas hydrophila and Aeromonas sobria, two organisms often associated with Red leg disease. Egg mass counts from 29 pastureland ponds did not revealed breeding activity declines over five years in the Monte Guglielmo area. Aeromonas hydrophila and Aeromonas sobria usually behave as opportunistic bacteria that can become pathogenic after suppression of the immune system by endogenous or exogenous stressors. Thus, a plurality of environmental factors may contribute to mortality events; some of them are discussed, including loss of high altitude breeding ponds resulting in overcrowding and poor water quality in remaining ponds and the presence of other pathogens.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Acta_Herpetol-9572




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