Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2023

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Jacob Kerby, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Andrea Liebl, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jeff Wesner, Ph.D.


Selenium, Ranavirus, Northern Leopard Frog, Bioaccumulation

Subject Categories



Most amphibians are becoming imperiled in today’s world via environmental contamination and emerging infectious diseases. This project's main objective was to determine the relationship between the prevalence of Ranavirus and selenium bioaccumulation in amphibians in South Dakota. I selected northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens) to focus on specifically because they are susceptible to Ranavirus and are found ubiquitously throughout eastern South Dakota wetlands. The secondary objective of this project was to determine if disease prevalence was correlated with areas of agricultural runoff in South Dakota’s prairie pothole wetlands. Intensive field sampling was conducted across five wetlands in Eastern South Dakota at three control sites with no agricultural runoff, and two experimental sites, where there is direct tile drainage. Northern leopard frogs were collected (n=21) from each wetland site via hand capture using dipnets and brought back to our laboratory. The livers of each euthanized individual were removed and processed for inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (IC-PMS) for selenium content analysis, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis for detection of Ranavirus. I expected immunocompetence to decrease as the infection load of Ranavirus and bioaccumulation of selenium increase in northern leopard frogs. Additionally, I expected the viral load of Ranavirus in northern leopard frogs to be correlated with areas of agricultural runoff. These hypotheses were rejected based on the limited amount of collected data, but important surveillance data was obtained.

Included in

Biology Commons



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