Assessing the interaction of stress physiology and Bd infection in Arizona tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum)

Project Abstract

Amphibian biodiversity has greatly diminished in recent years due to panzootic pathogenic fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the cause of the deadly disease chytridiomycosis (chytrid). The pathogenesis of chytrid is still unclear, as certain species and individuals within a species are differentially affected. Susceptibility and mortality of Bd are influenced by prolonged corticosterone activity, which deleteriously affects many of the same physiological processes as Bd infections. Thus, the objective of our study is to assess the relationship of corticosterone variation and Bd spore load in Arizona tiger salamanders (ATS; Ambystoma mavortium nebulosum) of Gunnison County, Colorado. In 2022 and 2023, we used a dermal swabbing method to collect baseline (resting) corticosterone from paedomorph (aquatic morph) and metamorph (terrestrial morph) ATS within three minutes of capture. Bd samples were then collected via skin swabbing. These samples will allow us to consider corticosterone and Bd spore load variation by morph, sex, location, and body condition. This study will provide a greater understanding of the pathogenesis of Bd and the interacting effects of glucocorticoid production and polyphenic life history on disease resistance. These results will develop the use of corticosterone as a predictor of Bd susceptibility and severity.


Conference Name (full, no abbreviations): The Tennessee Herpetological Society annual meeting

Dates: September 28th and 29th, 2023

Sponsoring Body: Tennessee Herpetological Society

Conference Website:


Conference Name (full, no abbreviations): The Wildlife Society’s 30th Annual Conference

Dates: November 5 - 9, 2023

Sponsoring Body: The Wildlife Society

Conference Website:

Funding Type

Travel Grant

Academic College

Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


Biology / Watershed Studies


Master of Science in Biology




Dr. Howard Whiteman

Academic College

Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology

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