Behavioral and Physiologic Assessment of Radio Transmitter Placement on Cuban Tree Frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) as a Model for Gliding Tree Frogs (Agalychnis spurrelli)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2009
Sonia M. Hernandez-Divers1,2, DVM, DACZM, PhD; Robert V. Horan1; Foonseng Choy3; Stephanie Kern1; M. Kevin Keel2, DVM, DACVP, PhD; Michael J. Yabsley1,2, MS, PhD; Stephen Hernandez-Divers3, BVetMed, DZooMed, DACZM
1Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources & the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA; 2Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, Athens, GA, USA; 3Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
Radio telemetry methods available for amphibian studies are still limited, due to the small body size of most species and complicated by behaviors such as burrowing, climbing, swimming, and gliding. Little data exists for the habitat requirements of the terrestrial life cycle of most amphibians, however, understanding these requirements have important conservation implications and telemetry can be used to determine the movement of amphibians away from their aquatic breeding grounds. The objective of this experiment was to determine both the behavioral and physiologic effects of three methods of radio transmitter attachment on a surrogate species, the Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), for the purpose of applying it to the gliding leaf frog (Agalychnis spurrelli).
Frogs were assigned to four groups: Group 1 (transmitter glued to a cloth harness), Group 2 (transmitter sutured to the skin of the dorsum directly), Group 3 (transmitter sutured to subcutaneously-implanted stents) and Group 4 (control group). Behavioral trials were performed by placing ten crickets in the enclosure and recording each frog’s movements, jumps, and successfully-captured crickets for a period of 10 minutes. Physiologic measurements included: organ weights, histopathologic evidence of disease, or direct effects by the transmitter (e.g., skin lesions), CBCs, presence/absence of hemoparasites, and prevalence/diversity of gastrointestinal parasites. The harness material caused severe injury to the tissues of the pectoral girdle. The stents (Group 3) were rejected and although skin wounds healed, cannot be recommended. Preliminary results indicate that transmitters sutured directly to the skin did not result in significantly different behavioral or physiologic measurements.