Urbanization and the Impact of Emerging Disease on Amphibians

EPA Grant Number: F5E11081
Title: Urbanization and the Impact of Emerging Disease on Amphibians
Investigators: Holland, Manja P.
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Emerging disease has been recognized as a critical challenge for environmental scientists. Emerging wildlife diseases are of concern both from conservation and human health perspectives as many emerging wildlife diseases are zoonotic (i.e., transferred naturally between wildlife and humans). Urbanization and other forms of anthropogenic change have been linked with wildlife disease emergence, but the mechanisms underlying these patterns remain unknown in most cases. Recent work suggests that infection of Rana clamitans (green frogs) by echinostomes, a group of parasitic trematodes, is greater in urban as compared to rural wetlands in Northeastern Connecticut. Echinostomes are some of the most widespread macroparasites in amphibians in North America, but the impact of echinostomes on amphibians in nature is not known. I have two research objectives: a) to examine the impact of echinostome infection on green frog survival, growth and development in nature, and b) to explore the underlying mechanisms of the emergence of echinostome infection in green frogs in urban environments.


Observational studies and field experiments will be utilized to examine the impact of echinostomes on measures of green frog fitness. A combination of observational studies, field experiments, and immunological assays will be utilized to investigate causes of echinostome emergence in urban environments. This project will aid in the elucidation of the impact of echinostomes on amphibians, and is also aimed at improving understanding of the mechanisms by which diseases can emerge as a result of urbanization.

Expected Results:

These studies will improve our understanding of the impact of human mediated landscape alteration, specifically urbanization, on amphibian disease patterns across spatial and temporal scales. Overall, these studies will provide insight into mechanisms of disease emergence in urban settings and may suggest methods of preventing this outcome in the future.

Supplemental Keywords:

emerging disease, wildlife disease, urban, urbanization gradient, amphibian, frog, green frog, Rana clamitans, echinostome, trematode, macroparasite, Connecticut, CT, aquatic ecology, immunology, fellowship,, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Habitat, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, habitat dynamics, forest management, human altered landscape, animal responses, biodoversity, land use effects, habitat disturbance, habitat loss, wetland habitat, anthropogenic stressors, ecological consequences, terrestrial habitat loss, emerging wildlie disease, conservation biology, environmental stress, deforestation, amphibian population, breeding habitat, forest conservation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005
  • 2006
  • Final