Ruthig finds link between temperature and disease in animals

May 12, 2014

Gregory Ruthig, North Central College assistant professor of biology, this winter published a paper suggesting environmental temperature can influence effects of infectious diseases on wild animals.

The paper, titled “Temperature and Water Molds Influence Mortality of Lithobates catesbeianus Eggs,” was published in the journal Herpetological Conservation and Biology.

In his research for the paper, Ruthig tested the effect of water temperature and infectious disease on amphibians. The pathogens he studied, called water molds, can kill large numbers of frog eggs and have been implicated in amphibian population declines. He found that bullfrog eggs became less susceptible to infectious disease as water temperatures rose. This research fits in with a growing body of scientific literature suggesting that climate change can influence the effects of infectious diseases on wild plants and animals.

Although he did this research in Virginia, students at North Central College have found the same pathogen in ponds around Naperville. Ruthig and his students are now working to determine the effects of water molds on local amphibian populations.  

Ruthig joined the North Central faculty in 2011. He earned his B.S. from Washington and Lee University and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.