Habitat Disturbance Linked with Host Microbiome Dispersion and Bd Dynamics in Temperate Amphibians

Wesley J. Neely, Sasha E. Greenspan, Leigha M. Stahl, Sam D. Heraghty, Vanessa M. Marshall, Carla L. Atkinson, C. Guilherme Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic habitat disturbances can dramatically alter ecological community interactions, including host–pathogen dynamics. Recent work has highlighted the potential for habitat disturbances to alter host-associated microbial communities, but the associations between anthropogenic disturbance, host microbiomes, and pathogens are unresolved. Amphibian skin microbial communities are particularly responsive to factors like temperature, physiochemistry, pathogen infection, and environmental microbial reservoirs. Through a field survey on wild populations of Acris crepitans (Hylidae) and Lithobates catesbeianus (Ranidae), we assessed the effects of habitat disturbance and connectivity on environmental bacterial reservoirs, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infection, and skin microbiome composition. We found higher measures of microbiome dispersion (a measure of community variability) in A. crepitans from more disturbed ponds, supporting the hypothesis that disturbance increases stochasticity in biological communities. We also found that habitat disturbance limited microbiome similarity between locations for both species, suggesting greater isolation of bacterial assemblages in more disturbed areas. Higher disturbance was associated with lower Bd prevalence for A. crepitans, which could signify suboptimal microclimates for Bd in disturbed habitats. Combined, our findings show that reduced microbiome stability stemming from habitat disturbance could compromise population health, even in the absence of pathogenic infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-910
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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