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1.  Potential for local adaptation in response to an anthropogenic agent of selection: effects of road deicing salts on amphibian embryonic survival and development 
Evolutionary Applications  2012;6(2):384-392.
The application of millions of tons of road deicing salts every winter in North America presents significant survival challenges to amphibians inhabiting roadside habitats. While much is known of the effects of NaCl on anuran tadpoles, less is known of effects on amphibian eggs, or any caudate life stage. In addition, little is known of the effects of MgCl2, which is now the 2nd most commonly used road deicer. Most studies have considered amphibians to be helpless victims of deicing salts, and ignore the possibility of the evolution of local adaptation to this stressor. We attempt to address these knowledge gaps and explore this evolutionary potential by examining the effects of NaCl and MgCl2 on the survival and development of eggs from different female rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa) from the same population. We demonstrate that both salts, at environmentally relevant concentrations, severely affect the embryonic survival and development of this amphibian, but that the effects of the salt are dependent on the identity of the mother. This female × treatment interaction results in substantial variation in tolerance to road deicing salts among newt families, providing the raw material necessary for natural selection and the evolution of local adaptation in this amphibian.
doi:10.1111/eva.12016
PMCID: PMC3586626  PMID: 23467723
amphibian; egg; local adaptation; magnesium chloride; natural selection; road deicing salt; Taricha granulosa; variation
2.  Stress-Induced Tradeoffs in a Free-Living Lizard across a Variable Landscape: Consequences for Individuals and Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49895.
Current life history theory suggests that the allocation of energetic resources between competing physiological needs should be dictated by an individual’s longevity and pace of life. One key physiological pathway likely to contribute to the partitioning of resources is the vertebrate stress response. By increasing circulating glucocorticoids the stress response can exert a suite of physiological effects, such as altering immune function. We investigated the effects of stress physiology on individual immunity, reproduction and oxidative stress, across an urban landscape. We sampled populations in and around St. George, Utah, examining corticosterone in response to restraint stress, two innate immune measures, reproductive output, and the presence of both reactive oxygen metabolites and antioxidant binding capacity, in populations of common side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) experiencing variable levels of environmental stress. Additionally, using capture-mark-recapture techniques, we examined the relationships between these physiological parameters and population-level differences. Our results reveal elevated physiological stress corresponds with suppressed immunity and increased oxidative stress. Interestingly, urban populations experiencing the most physiological stress also exhibited greater reproductive output and decreased survival relative to rural populations experiencing less physiological stress, demonstrating a tradeoff between reproduction and life maintenance processes. Our results suggest that environmental stress may augment life history strategy in this fast-paced species, and that shifts in life history strategy can in turn affect the population at large. Finally, the urban environment poses definite challenges for organisms, and while it appears that side-blotched lizards are adjusting physiologically, it is unknown what fitness costs these physiological adjustments accrue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049895
PMCID: PMC3502225  PMID: 23185478
3.  Interfamily variation in amphibian early life-history traits: raw material for natural selection? 
Ecology and Evolution  2012;2(7):1637-1643.
The embryonic development and time to hatching of eggs can be highly adaptive in some species, and thus under selective pressure. In this study, we examined the underlying interfamily variation in hatching timing and embryonic development in a population of an oviparous amphibian, the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa). We found significant, high variability in degree of embryonic development and hatching timing among eggs from different females. Patterns of variation were present regardless of temperature. We also could not explain the differences among families by morphological traits of the females or their eggs. This study suggests that the variation necessary for natural selection to act upon is present in the early life history of this amphibian.
doi:10.1002/ece3.287
PMCID: PMC3434928  PMID: 22957168
Amphibian; egg; embryonic development; hatching; Salamandridae; Taricha granulosa; variation
4.  Improved ex vivo method for microbiocidal activity across vertebrate species 
Biology Open  2012;1(5):482-487.
Summary
The field of ecoimmunology is currently undergoing rapid expansion, whereby biologists from a wide range of ecological disciplines are increasingly interested in assessing immunocompetence in their study organisms. One of the key challenges to researchers is determining what eco-immune measures to use in a given experiment. Moreover, there are limitations depending on study species, requirements for specific antibodies, and relevance of the methodology to the study organism. Here we introduce an improved ex vivo method for microbiocidal activity across vertebrate species. The utility of this assay is that it determines the ability of an organism to remove a pathogen that could be encountered in the wild, lending ecological relevancy to the technique. The applications of this microbiocidal assay are broad, as it is readily adaptable to different types of microbes as well as a wide variety of study species. We describe a method of microbiocidal analysis that will enable researchers across disciplines to effectively employ this method to accurately quantify microbial killing ability, using readily available microplate absorbance readers.
doi:10.1242/bio.2012919
PMCID: PMC3507210  PMID: 23213440
Ecoimmunology; Immunity; Bacteria; Complement activity
5.  An improved competitive inhibition enzymatic immunoassay method for tetrodotoxin quantification 
Quantifying tetrodotoxin (TTX) has been a challenge in both ecological and medical research due to the cost, time and training required of most quantification techniques. Here we present a modified Competitive Inhibition Enzymatic Immunoassay for the quantification of TTX, and to aid researchers in the optimization of this technique for widespread use with a high degree of accuracy and repeatability.
doi:10.1186/1480-9222-14-3
PMCID: PMC3337821  PMID: 22410273
Tetrodotoxin; CIEIA; HPLC

Results 1-5 (5)