Journal of Experimental Zoology
Many aspects of ectotherm physiology are temperature‐dependent. The immune system of temperate‐dwelling ectothermic host species is no exception and their immune function is often downregulated in cold temperatures. Likewise, species of ectothermic pathogens experience temperature‐mediated effects on rates of transmission and/or virulence. Although seemingly straightforward, predicting the outcomes of ectothermic host−pathogen interactions is quite challenging. A recent hypothesis termed the thermal mismatch hypothesis posits that cool‐adapted host species should be most susceptible to pathogen infection during warm temperature periods whereas warm‐adapted host species should be most susceptible to pathogens during periods of cool temperatures. We explore this hypothesis using two ecologically and physiologically differentiated color morphs of the Eastern Red‐backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) and a pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis; hereafter "Bd") using a fully factorial laboratory experiment. At cool temperatures, unstriped salamanders (i.e., those that are tolerant of warm temperatures) had a significantly higher probability of Bd infection compared with cool‐tolerant striped salamanders, consistent with the thermal mismatch hypothesis. However, we found no support for this hypothesis when salamanders were exposed to Bd at warm temperatures: the probability of Bd infection in the cool‐tolerant striped salamanders was nearly identical in both cool and warm temperatures, opposite the predictions of the thermal mismatch hypothesis. Our results are most consistent with the fact that Bd grows poorly at warm temperatures. Alternatively, our data could indicate that the two color morphs do not differ in their tolerance to warm temperatures but that striped salamanders are more tolerant to cool temperatures than unstriped salamanders. Research Highlights: In a test of the thermal mismatch hypothesis, we found that in cool temperatures, warm‐tolerant salamanders had higher parasitism compared with cool‐tolerant salamanders. There was no difference in parasitism for salamanders in warm temperatures.
Venesky, Matthew; DeMarchi, Joseph Alan; Hickerson, Cari-Ann M.; and Anthony, Carl D., "Does the thermal mismatch hypothesis predict disease outcomes in different morphs of a terrestrial salamander?" (2022). 2022 Faculty Bibliography. 10.
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