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Challenges of invasion front: water balance, stress and immunity in Sclerophrys gutturalis

Grant number: 18/23661-6
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 15, 2019
Effective date (End): April 14, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal Investigator:Fernando Ribeiro Gomes
Grantee:Adriana Maria Giorgi Barsotti
Supervisor abroad: John Measey
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Stellenbosch University, South Africa  
Associated to the scholarship:16/05024-3 - Hidric stress and immune response in frogs (Rhinella ornata) inhabiting Atlantic Forest fragments, BP.DR

Abstract

Invasive species are recognized as one of the main threats to vertebrate populations, as they can develop mechanisms that increase their fitness in new conquered environments. In this way, they can be strong competitors exploiting the same resources as the local population and contributing to the loss of biodiversity. Among the mechanisms involved that aid in the ability of invasive species is the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Studies have shown that Rhienlla marina individuals with higher levels of corticosterone exhibit greater movement-related survival than individuals with lower levels. In South Africa, the species bufonidae Sclerophrys gutturalis was introduced in a periurban area with different climatic characteristics (colder and drier) from those in which native populations occur, and show the phenotypic plasticity to deal with the new challenges, such as improved locomotor performance in lower levels of hydration. In this way, we aim to broaden the understanding of the adjustments made by this species to increase their fitness in new environments, through the evaluation of stress response, immunocompetence and water search behavior.