Full Text Available Multicellular hosts maintain complex associations with microbial communities. While microbial communities often serve important functional roles for their hosts, our understanding of the local and regional processes that structure these communities remains limited. Metacommunity analyses provide a promising tool for investigating mechanisms shaping microbiome heterogeneity, which is essential for predicting functional variation between hosts. Using a metacommunity framework, we examined heterogeneity in the skin microbiome of the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis. Hellbenders are broadly distributed throughout river systems in the eastern United States, but are present in specific environmental locations throughout their range. The large range of the species and history of population fragmentation suggest that local and regional processes contribute to the distribution of cutaneous symbiont diversity. Therefore, we characterized the skin and environmental bacterial communities at eight rivers throughout the range of the species. We observed variation among hellbender populations in skin microbial community diversity and proportion of shared operational taxonomic units (OTUs between animal and river water communities. Among populations sampled, we noted significant clumped OTU turnover (i.e., Clementsian structure resulting in unique cutaneous communities. In addition, we observed a significant positive correlation between skin community divergence and hellbender population genetic divergence. Host-population skin community dissimilarity did not correlate strongly with distance between sampling locations, indicating a weak spatial effect on the distribution of symbionts. These results suggest that species sorting mechanisms (i.e., local processes structure local skin microbial communities in hellbenders. The variation in skin community composition observed among host populations foreshadows a similar pattern in
Shem D Unger
Full Text Available Conservation genetics is a powerful tool to assess the population structure of species and provides a framework for informing management of freshwater ecosystems. As lotic habitats become fragmented, the need to assess gene flow for species of conservation management becomes a priority. The eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis is a large, fully aquatic paedamorphic salamander. Many populations are experiencing declines throughout their geographic range, yet the genetic ramifications of these declines are currently unknown. To this end, we examined levels of genetic variation and genetic structure at both range-wide and drainage (hierarchical scales. We collected 1,203 individuals from 77 rivers throughout nine states from June 2007 to August 2011. Levels of genetic diversity were relatively high among all sampling locations. We detected significant genetic structure across populations (Fst values ranged from 0.001 between rivers within a single watershed to 0.218 between states. We identified two genetically differentiated groups at the range-wide scale: 1 the Ohio River drainage and 2 the Tennessee River drainage. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA based on landscape-scale sampling of basins within the Tennessee River drainage revealed the majority of genetic variation (∼94-98% occurs within rivers. Eastern hellbenders show a strong pattern of isolation by stream distance (IBSD at the drainage level. Understanding levels of genetic variation and differentiation at multiple spatial and biological scales will enable natural resource managers to make more informed decisions and plan effective conservation strategies for cryptic, lotic species.
Training for Translocation: Predator Conditioning Induces Behavioral Plasticity and Physiological Changes in Captive Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis (Cryptobranchidae, Amphibia
Erin K. Kenison
Full Text Available Translocations are stressful, especially when captive animals are naïve to natural stimuli. Captive eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis identify predatory fish as threats, but may be more vulnerable to predation and stress because of inexperience with them. We investigated the use of predator conditioning to prepare hellbenders, behaviorally and physiologically, for the presence of a common predator, largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides. We reared hellbenders for 30 d with and without continuous exposure to largemouth bass kairomones and heterospecific alarm cues and found conditioned hellbenders became less active compared to unconditioned individuals (p = 0.017. After conditioning, we exposed hellbenders to water, a low concentration of kairomones, or a high concentration of kairomones in a closed respirometer system. We measured activity within respirometer chambers and routine metabolic rate. We found unconditioned hellbenders exposed to low and high concentrations of kairomones were 41% and 119% more active than conditioned animals (p = 0.002 and p < 0.001. Moreover, conditioned individuals had on average 6.5% lower metabolic rates across all three kairomone concentrations compared to unconditioned individuals (p = 0.017. Our data suggest that predator conditioning induces behavioral avoidance tactics and physiological changes that could improve future translocation efforts for hellbenders and other imperiled species.
Michael J Freake
Full Text Available Comparisons of recent and historic population demographic studies of eastern hellbenders Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis have identified significant population declines and extirpations associated with habitat degradation, poor water quality and disease, leading to nomination as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. However, populations in the southern Appalachian region of the range have received less attention despite relatively high levels of watershed protection due to the establishment of federally protected National Forest and National Park public lands. These watersheds likely represent some of the best remaining available habitat, yet the lack of published studies make assessment of population stability and viability very difficult. Our objectives were to (1 conduct a capture-mark-recapture (CMR demographic study and a point transect survey on the Hiwassee River in Tennessee which is designated a National Scenic River, and is largely contained within the Cherokee National Forest, (2 quantify the size structure of the population, (3 compare abundance, survival and recruitment with historic and contemporary hellbender populations across the range, (4 assess the importance of this population and the significance of National Forest and National Park lands in the context of hellbender population conservation in the southeastern United States. We detected all age classes present, with larval hellbenders comprising 21.5% of captures. Using a combination of static life table and CMR methods, we determined that survival rates during the first year were low (~10%, but were high (68-94% for taggable sized hellbenders. Density of hellbenders at the study site was very high (84 taggable sized hellbenders per 100m of river compared to recent demographic studies conducted in other regions of the range. We detected hellbenders over ~28 km of river, with a mean density of 23 taggable sized hellbenders per 100m of river, and
May, Thomas W.; Walther, Mike J.; Brumbaugh, William G.
This report presents the results of contaminant monitoring surveys conducted annually by the Missouri Department of Conservation to examine the levels of selected elemental contaminants in hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) blood and fish. Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus, Ictalurus punctatus, Pylodictis olivaris), redhorse (Moxostoma anisorum, Moxostoma erythrurum), bass (Micropterus salmoides, Micropterus punctulatus, Micropterus Lacepede, Ambloplites rupestris), walleye (Sander vitreus), and sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) were collected from 17 sites as part of the Department's General Contaminant Monitoring Program. Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and other sunfish (Lepomis megalotis, Lepomis cyanellus) were collected from 18 sites as part of the Department's Resource Assessment and Monitoring Program. Blood from hellbenders was collected from seven sites as part of the Department's Hellbender Monitoring Program.
Cheryl A Nickerson
Full Text Available Investigation into the causes underlying the rapid, global amphibian decline provides critical insight into the effects of changing ecosystems. Hypothesized and confirmed links between amphibian declines, disease, and environmental changes are increasingly represented in published literature. However, there are few long-term amphibian studies that include data on population size, abnormality/injury rates, disease, and habitat variables to adequately assess changes through time. We cultured and identified microorganisms isolated from abnormal/injured and repressed tissue regeneration sites of the endangered Ozark Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi, to discover potential causative agents responsible for their significant decline in health and population. This organism and our study site were chosen because the population and habitat of C. a. bishopi have been intensively studied from 1969-2009, and the abnormality/injury rate and apparent lack of regeneration were established. Although many bacterial and fungal isolates recovered were common environmental organisms, several opportunistic pathogens were identified in association with only the injured tissues of C.a. bishopi. Bacterial isolates included Aeromonas hydrophila, a known amphibian pathogen, Granulicetella adiacens, Gordonai terrae, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Aerococcus viridans, Streptococcus pneumoniae and a variety of Pseudomonads, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, P. stutzeri, and P. alcaligenes. Fungal isolates included species in the genera Penicillium, Acremonium, Cladosporium, Curvularia, Fusarium, Streptomycetes, and the Class Hyphomycetes. Many of the opportunistic pathogens identified are known to form biofilms. Lack of isolation of the same organism from all wounds suggests that the etiological agent responsible for the damage to C. a. bishopi may not be a single organism. To our knowledge, this is the first study to profile the external microbial consortia
...-0033] [96300-1671-0000-R4] RIN 1018-AW93 Inclusion of the Hellbender, Including the Eastern Hellbender... remove the species from Appendix III without consulting the other CITES Parties. Inclusion of native U.S... determine whether we should propose the species for inclusion in Appendix II, remove it from Appendix III...
...-0033; 96300-1671-0000-R4] RIN 1018-AW93 Inclusion of the Hellbender, Including the Eastern Hellbender... range countries is recommended prior to adding or removing a species to Appendix III. Inclusion of... Article II. Appendix III shall include the names of the Parties submitting the species for inclusion...
Desnitskiy, Alexey G; Litvinchuk, Spartak N
The order Caudata includes about 660 species and displays a variety of important developmental traits such as cleavage pattern and egg size. However, the cleavage process of tailed amphibians has never been analyzed within a phylogenetic framework. We use published data on the embryos of 36 species concerning the character of the third cleavage furrow (latitudinal, longitudinal or variable) and the magnitude of synchronous cleavage period (up to 3-4 synchronous cell divisions in the animal hemisphere or a considerably longer series of synchronous divisions followed by midblastula transition). Several species from basal caudate families Cryptobranchidae (Andrias davidianus and Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) and Hynobiidae (Onychodactylus japonicus) as well as several representatives from derived families Plethodontidae (Desmognathus fuscus and Ensatina eschscholtzii) and Proteidae (Necturus maculosus) are characterized by longitudinal furrows of the third cleavage and the loss of synchrony as early as the 8-cell stage. By contrast, many representatives of derived families Ambystomatidae and Salamandridae have latitudinal furrows of the third cleavage and extensive period of synchronous divisions. Our analysis of these ontogenetic characters mapped onto a phylogenetic tree shows that the cleavage pattern of large, yolky eggs with short series of synchronous divisions is an ancestral trait for the tailed amphibians, while the data on the orientation of third cleavage furrows seem to be ambiguous with respect to phylogeny. Nevertheless, the midblastula transition, which is characteristic of the model species Ambystoma mexicanum (Caudata) and Xenopus laevis (Anura), might have evolved convergently in these two amphibian orders.
... stated that animals infected with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (the pathogen which causes amphibian... seq.) is a law that was passed to prevent extinction of species by providing measures to help alleviate the loss of species and their habitats. Before a plant or animal species can receive the...
... Consolidated 2002 Missouri (303(d)) list of impaired waters for organic wastes (fecal coliform). Likely sources... gravel mining, sedimentation, nutrient runoff, and nest site disturbance from recreational uses of the... plateau, water is contaminated by nutrients from increased human waste (in part due to rapid urbanization...