Linking microbiome and stress hormone responses in wild tropical treefrogs across continuous and fragmented forests

Wesley J. Neely, Renato A. Martins, Camila M. Mendonça da Silva, Tainá Ferreira da Silva, Lucas E. Fleck, Ross D. Whetstone, Douglas C. Woodhams, W. Harrison Cook, Paula R. Prist, Victor H. Valiati, Sasha E. Greenspan, Alexandro M. Tozetti, Ryan L. Earley, C. Guilherme Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The amphibian skin microbiome is an important component of anti-pathogen defense, but the impact of environmental change on the link between microbiome composition and host stress remains unclear. In this study, we used radiotelemetry and host translocation to track microbiome composition and function, pathogen infection, and host stress over time across natural movement paths for the forest-associated treefrog, Boana faber. We found a negative correlation between cortisol levels and putative microbiome function for frogs translocated to forest fragments, indicating strong integration of host stress response and anti-pathogen potential of the microbiome. Additionally, we observed a capacity for resilience (resistance to structural change and functional loss) in the amphibian skin microbiome, with maintenance of putative pathogen-inhibitory function despite major temporal shifts in microbiome composition. Although microbiome community composition did not return to baseline during the study period, the rate of microbiome change indicated that forest fragmentation had more pronounced effects on microbiome composition than translocation alone. Our findings reveal associations between stress hormones and host microbiome defenses, with implications for resilience of amphibians and their associated microbes facing accelerated tropical deforestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1261
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

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