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Population genetic patterns suggest a behavioural change in wild common frogs (Rana temporaria) following disease outbreaks (Ranavirus)

Authors

  • AMBER G. F. TEACHER,

    1. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
    2. School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
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    • Present address: Royal Holloway University of London, Egham TW20 OEX, UK

  • TRENTON W. J. GARNER,

    1. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY, UK
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  • RICHARD A. NICHOLS

    1. School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
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Amber G. F. Teacher, Fax: 01784 414224; E-mail: amber.teacher@rhul.ac.uk

Abstract

We use 14 microsatellite loci to investigate the impact of a viral disease (Ranavirus) on the population genetic structure of wild common frogs (Rana temporaria). Populations with a history of Ranavirus mortalities (and 83% declines in the number of frogs) were compared with populations with no history of infection. Infected ponds showed significantly elevated FIS (homozygote excess), significantly reduced relatedness, and no detectable effect on allelic richness. We hypothesize that the elevated FIS and reduced relatedness are consequences of assortative mating, and that allelic richness is maintained by immigration from nearby populations. Simulations indicate that the elevated FIS cannot be explained by population size reductions, but can indeed be explained by assortative mating (even if a mate choice locus is unlinked to the genetic markers). While the majority of studies consider demographic outcomes following disease outbreaks, our results indicate that emerging infectious diseases could also result in behavioural changes.

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