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Lungworm infection modifies cardiac response to exercise in cane toads

Authors


Correspondence

Lígia Pizzatto. Current address: The University of Sydney, School of Biological Sciences, A08, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Email: ligia.oceanica@gmail.com

Abstract

Parasites can affect the locomotor performance of their hosts via a range of mechanisms. Cane toads (Rhinella marina) in Australia often contain native-range lung nematodes (Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala), and the parasite reduces endurance (and thus, dispersal rate) of this invasive anuran. The mechanism of impact plausibly involves reduced oxygen supply from infected lungs; if so, we expect to see that exercise will increase heartbeat rates more in infected toads than in uninfected conspecifics. Our data on 103 field-collected toads (53 of which contained lungworms) support this prediction. Exercise induced a greater increase in heartbeat rate in infected toads than in uninfected conspecifics, but no shift in oxygen saturation of the haemoglobin.

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