The Effect of Trematode Infection on Amphibian Limb Development and Survivorship

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Science  30 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5415, pp. 802-804
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5415.802

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The causes of amphibian deformities and their role in widespread amphibian declines remain conjectural. Severe limb abnormalities were induced at high frequencies in Pacific treefrogs (Hyla regilla) exposed to cercariae of a trematode parasite (Ribeiroia sp.). The abnormalities closely matched those observed at field sites, and an increase in parasite density caused an increase in abnormality frequency and a decline in tadpole survivorship. These findings call for further investigation of parasite infection as a cause of amphibian deformities in other sites and species.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: pieter{at}

  • Present address: Roberts Environmental Center, Claremont McKenna College, W. M. Keck Science Center, 925 North Mills Road, Claremont, CA 91711–5916, USA.

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