Melanie J. Gallant


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Effects of Agricultural Stressors on Growth and an Immune Status Indicator in Wood Frog ( <i>Lithobates sylvaticus</i> ) Tadpoles and Metamorphs
Gabrielle E. Ruso, Natacha S. Hogan, Claudia Sheedy, Melanie J. Gallant, Timothy D. Jardine
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Volume 40, Issue 8

Like many amphibians, wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) populations have likely declined or experienced local extirpations as a result of habitat alterations. Despite this, wood frogs are still present and breeding in altered landscapes, like the agricultural Prairie Pothole Region of central Canada, and are exposed to a variety of anthropogenic impacts. As tadpoles, water contamination can have negative effects on growth, development, and immune systems. To investigate the potential effects of agricultural land use on tadpole growth and immune system stress, we used boosted regression trees to model body mass, body condition, and neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios, a measure of immune stress, against 32 variables including water quality, wetland habitat, and landscape-level measures. Developmental stage strongly influenced all 3 endpoints, and body mass was negatively influenced by higher levels of total dissolved solids (>600-700 mg/L) and at the first sign of pesticide detection (>0.01 proportion pesticides detected of those screened). While correlative, these data suggest that tadpoles developing in agricultural environments may experience survival and reproductive disadvantages if they metamorphose at smaller body sizes. Given the potential impacts this can have on adult frogs and frog populations, these results provide an impetus for further field-based investigation into the effects that pesticides, and especially total dissolved solids, may have on tadpoles. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:2269-2281. © 2021 The Authors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.


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Detecting Amphibians in Agricultural Landscapes Using Environmental DNA Reveals the Importance of Wetland Condition
Gabrielle E. Ruso, Christy A. Morrissey, Natacha S. Hogan, Claudia Sheedy, Melanie J. Gallant, Timothy D. Jardine
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Volume 38, Issue 12

Amphibians are declining worldwide, in part because of large-scale degradation of habitat from agriculture and pervasive pathogens. Yet a common North American amphibian, the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), ranges widely and persists in agricultural landscapes. Conventional survey techniques rely on visual encounters and dip-netting efforts, but detectability limits the ability to test for the effects of environmental variables on amphibian habitat suitability. We used environmental DNA to determine the presence of wood frogs and an amphibian pathogen (ranavirus) in Prairie Pothole wetlands and investigated the effects of 32 water quality, wetland habitat, and landscape-level variables on frog presence at sites representing different degrees of agricultural intensity. Several wetland variables influenced wood frog presence, the most influential being those associated with wetland productivity (i.e., nutrients), vegetation buffer width, and proportion of the surrounding landscape that is comprised of other water bodies. Wood frog presence was positively associated with higher dissolved phosphorus (>0.4 mg/L), moderate dissolved nitrogen (0.1-0.2 mg/L), lower chlorophyll a (≤15 µg/L), wider vegetation buffers (≥10 m), and more water on the landscape (≥0.25). These results highlight the effects of environmental factors at multiple scales on the presence of amphibians in this highly modified landscape-namely the importance of maintaining wetland water quality, vegetation buffers, and surrounding habitat heterogeneity. Environ Toxicol Chem 2019;38:2750-2763. © 2019 SETAC.