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The role of habitat split on the anurans skin microbiome in the Atlantic Forest

Grant number: 19/11254-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2019
Effective date (End): November 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Célio Fernando Baptista Haddad
Grantee:José Wagner Ribeiro Júnior
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Studies focused on host-microbiome dynamics have been highlighting the functional role of many of these microorganisms to host health. For example, skin microbiome of amphibians is an important adaptive immune system, increasing the immunological capacity and preventing infectious diseases, like some amphibian skin bacteria inhibit development of frog-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). The amphibians skin microbiome diversity is influenced by species pool, geographical localization of the host, and landscape characteristics. Many amphibian species require two habitats to complete their life cycles (i.e., terrestrial and aquatic habitats), and habitat loss and habitat split (forest fragments disconnected from aquatic environments) can alter the skin microbiome of the hosts. However, studies about the role of habitat split on amphibian microbiome are not yet available. Understanding how the amphibian skin microbiome (mutualistic, commensal and pathogenic microorganisms) changes could provide a predictive framework on how disturbances to the environmental impact this threatened vertebrate group. Therefore, we will conduct a field experiment with overarching goal of evaluating the role of habit split on amphibian skin microbiome in one of the most heavily impacted regions of Brazil's Atlantic Forest. To test whether habitat split alters the functional composition of the amphibian skin microbiome we will experimentally translocate individual frogs from forest fragments with streams to dry forest fragments (fragments affected by the habitat split), and from dry forest fragments to forest fragments connected to streams (no habitat split). Additionally, we will remove the microbiome of some hosts to test for mechanisms of skin microbiome assembly on these frogs. We predict that habitat split will be a significant predictor of bacterial diversity and composition, with downstream impacts on host health. The Atlantic Forest is a biodiversity hotspot, mainly for amphibians, besides being a promising region for spatial epidemiologic studies, since habitat split is widely distributed in the biome. Our novel study capitalizes on both basic and applied aspects of amphibian ecology, having direct implications for the conservation and management of one a globally threatened vertebrate group. (AU)