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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 38(3)

Inflammation in digits of unmarked and toe-tipped wild hylids

Andrea D. Phillott A B C E , Keith R. McDonald B D and Lee F. Skerratt A B

A School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.
B Amphibian Disease Ecology Group, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.
C Asian University for Women, Chittagong 4000, Bangladesh.
D Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 975, Atherton, QLD 4883, Australia.
E Corresponding author. Email: andrea.phillott@gmail.com

Wildlife Research 38(3) 204-207 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR10154
Submitted: 4 September 2010  Accepted: 11 February 2011   Published: 13 July 2011

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Context: The use of toe-tipping (removal of the toe pad) in mark–recapture studies of anurans is controversial because of the unknown risk of infection and potential impact on animal survival.

Aims: We compared the inflammation rates of digits in unmarked and toe-tipped wild hylid frogs (Litoria genimaculata, L. nannotis, L. rheocola and Nyctimystes dayi) to determine if marked amphibians present with a greater proportion of affected digits than unmarked animals.

Methods: We examined marked and unmarked frogs captured on streams in northern Queensland over a 12-month period for phalangeal inflammation.

Key results: Of 777 unmarked frogs, 0.4% presented with digits showing inflammation because of natural causes. After toe-tipping, 59.1% of the frogs were recaptured within a mean of 97 days ± standard deviation of 102 days, with macroscopic inflammation observed in 1.3% of marked animals. The proportion of marked frogs with inflamed, toe-tipped digits did not differ significantly from that of inflamed digits in unmarked frogs (Fisher exact test P = 0.085) but the odds ratio (3.417, 0.851–13.730) indicated a greater likelihood of inflamed digits occurring in toe-tipped than unmarked frogs.

Conclusions: Although the risk of inflammation increased 3-fold in marked hylids, the low proportion of frogs affected (1.3%) indicated the potential pathological risk of toe-tipping did not outweigh the benefits of using the marking method.

Implications: This study suggests that toe-tipping may be an appropriate and relatively safe marking method in stream-dwelling hylid populations.


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