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Keywords:

  • breeding phenology;
  • Patagonian anuran;
  • priority effect;
  • Saprolegnia infection

Abstract

Here, we studied the ecological significance of Saprolegnia infections (‘saprolegniasis’) on the survival and development of two populations of the endemic Patagonian anuran Pleurodema thaul (Anura, Leiuperidae). We found that four different Saprolegnia species infected eggs and embryos of P. thaul, indicating that the infection by these ‘zoosporic fungi’ was different in each anuran population and among different cohorts. Late anuran cohorts generally showed a higher incidence of infection than early cohorts, but we observed no clear overall pattern between populations. In addition, in laboratory experiments, we determined that some of the Saprolegnia species induce early hatching, and that hatching timing was variable between populations. In summary, we found that early breeding (by underlying priority effects) could improve the survival of the earliest cohorts of P. thaul by allowing them to survive the stress imposed by epidemic events of Saprolegnia.