Reduced innate immunity of Cuban Treefrogs at leading edge of range expansion. Academic Article uri icon


  • During geographic range expansion, populations of non-indigenous species at the invasion front may benefit from directing resources away from immune defense. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the strength of two innate immune components in populations of invasive Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in a long-colonized area (core region) and at the invasion front (leading-edge region). First, we compared the region-specific metabolic response of frogs injected with an endotoxin that induces systemic inflammation (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) to sham-injected control frogs pooled from both regions. Males and females were analyzed independently because we detected a sex-related difference in mass-independent metabolism of control frogs, with males exhibiting a significantly higher metabolic rate (F1, 21  = 29.02, P < 0.001) than females. We observed a significantly higher metabolic rate in LPS-injected core frogs compared with control frogs for both males (P = 0.041) and females (P = 0.007). Conversely, in leading-edge populations, there was no significant difference in the metabolic rate of LPS-injected and control frogs (males, P  = 0.195; females, P  = 0.132). Second, we directly compared bacterial killing ability of frog blood plasma between regions. Bactericidal ability of plasma was significantly greater in frogs from the core region in comparison with those at the leading edge (F1, 26   = 28.67, P < 0.001). For both immune components that we examined, populations from the core exhibited stronger immune responses. Our findings support hypotheses predicting an inverse relationship between immunity and range expansion.

publication date

  • December 2017