Friday, 28 March 2014

BBC News - Salamander threatened by skin-eating fungus

BBC News - Salamander threatened by skin-eating fungus

A deadly skin-eating fungus is threatening the fire salamander population in the Netherlands.
It has driven the creature to the brink of extinction in the
region though it's still unknown whether other countries have seen
similar declines.

Recognisable by its vibrant yellow and black skin, fire
salamanders dropped to a population low of 10 animals before a treatment
programme began.

The findings, in PNAS journal, explain what caused their decline.

Once researchers observed the near catastrophic decline, the animals were taken into captivity.

A treatment programme was developed and youngsters have now
been born. The team plans to reintroduce them into the wild once numbers
are back to a sufficient level.

A team of international scientists was able to isolate the fungus after analysing dead salamanders. Its Latin name, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, means "salamander-eating".

"We need to act urgently to determine what populations are in danger and how best to protect them”

Matthew Fisher
Imperial College London

A related fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has already threatened over 200 species of amphibians.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Frog's little helpers

Amphibians across the globe are facing calamitous declines. Around a third of species are critically threatened, while extinction rates for amphibians are 200 times higher than for other vertebrates. Several factors underlie these changes: widespread habitat loss, climate change and toxic chemicals in environmental run-off, among others. However, the most prominent cause of epidemic mortality is the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, known more simply as Bd. Where it is common, Bd decimates populations. Puzzlingly, however, while Bd infection rates in some ponds are extremely high, other ponds are hardly affected. New research published in Current Biology offers a compelling explanation for this variation. Simultaneously, the results offer a novel route to mitigate Bd-induced amphibian loss. 

The conclusion is very nice!

Frog's little helpers

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Environmental Determinants of Recent Endemism of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infections in Amphibian Assemblages in the Absence of Disease Outbreaks

A paper to be published in Conservation Biology written by Annemarieke Spitzen-van der Sluijs and collaborators describe the Bd in the Netherlands. There, Bd is apparently endemic without causing much harm to amphibians. The abstract ist available here:

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 | Hoffnung für Amphibien | Hoffnung für Amphibien

Insgesamt stehen 70 Prozent unserer heimischen Amphibienarten auf der
Roten Liste. Nicht nur in der Schweiz haben es die Amphibien schwer,
sondern weltweit sinken die Amphibienbestände stetig. Neben Klimawandel
und Habitatsverlust ist der Chytridpilz Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) für das grosse Amphibiensterben verantwortlich ( berichtete).   Hat sich der Chytridpilz erst einmal erfolgreich in einer Population
etabliert, kann dies zur kompletten Ausrottung der Population führen.
Dieses Worst-Case-Szenario tritt jedoch nicht bei allen befallenen
Populationen auf. Das zeigten Untersuchungen der Geburtshelferkröte (Alytes obstetricans)
in den Pyrenäen. Aufgrund dieser Beobachtungen begann ein
internationales Forscherteam mit einer Reihe von Experimenten, die
erklären sollten wieso die befallene Amphibienpopulation nicht stirbt.

Friday, 7 February 2014

PhD in Animal Conservation Biology, Uppsala University on Bd

PhD in Animal Conservation Biology, Uppsala University The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) causes the disease chytridiomycosis and is believed to be one of the major causes for recent global declines of amphibians. Bd was first found in Sweden in 2011. This studentship is aimed at elucidating the relationship between Bd infection and fitness in natural populations of Swedish amphibians. The objective is to determine the extent of Bd infection in Swedish amphibans and whether resistance differs among species and populations. We seek a bright and highly motivated student who ideally holds an M.Sc. or equivalent in a relevant topic (e.g. population-, evolutionary- or conservation genetics/ecology). Experience of working with conservation genetic techniques such as MHC-genetics, sequencing, and genotyping would be advantageous, but full training will be provided. The ideal candidate will also be able to work both independently and as part of a team. A high standard of spoken and written English is required. The student will be based at the Department of Ecology and Genetics (Animal Ecology) at the Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC) at Uppsala University ( The centre is one of the leading centres for evolutionary biology research in the world and offers a stimulating international environment and excellent research. The working language of the Centre is English. The project is co-supervised by Professors Jacob Höglund and Anssi Laurila. Uppsala is a city of 200,000 inhabitants with an attractive historical centre and easy access to surrounding nature. It offers a very high standard of living and is well connected to the Swedish capital Stockholm and Stockholm-Arlanda international airport. This studentship, which provides a net salary of approx. 2000 per month and includes health insurance, is funded by the Oscar and Lili Lamm Foundation for a period of four years. The salary is at a fixed rate with pre-set increments. Funding is also available for attending conferences. To apply for the position, please provide: (i) a letter of motivation including a maximum 2-page statement of your research interests, relevant skills and experience; (ii) a CV including publication list; and (iii) names and contact details of three referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation. All materials should be emailed as a single PDF file to: with 'PhD application' in the subject line. Uppsala University is an equal opportunity employer. We particularly welcome applications from women. Given equal suitability, qualifications and professional achievement, women will be given preference, unless particular circumstances pertaining to a male applicant apply. The application deadline is February 28 2014 and interviews will take place shortly afterwards. The preferred start date is flexible and will depend on the timeframe of the most qualified applicant. For further information, please see: contact Jacob Höglund via email ( with any informal inquiries. For representative publications, please see: Rogell B, Thörngren H Laurila A Höglund J 2010 Genetic structure in peripheral populations of the natterjack toad, Bufo calamita,
as revealed by AFLP. Cons Gen 11: 173-181 Rogell B Eklund M Thörngren H Laurila A Höglund J 2010 The effect of selection, drift and genetic variation on life history trait divergence among insular populations. Mol Ecol 19: 2229-2240 Wang B Ekblom R Pollock D Bongcam-Rudloff E Höglund J 2012 Transcriptome sequencing of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) for immune gene discovery and microsatellite development. Open Biology 2: 120054 _____________________________________________ Anssi Laurila Animal Ecology/ Department of Ecology and Genetics Evolutionary Biology Center Uppsala University Norbyvägen 18D 75236 Uppsala Sweden Tel. +46-18-4716493 Mobile: +46-70-2384356 Coordinator for postgraduate studies at IEG

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Deadly skin-eating fungus threatens Belgian Fire Salamander populations

Amphibians are globally threatened by dramatic population declines, which are in part driven by infectious diseases. Despite the well-known occurrence of several infectious amphibian diseases in Belgium, hitherto, they appear not to have significantly affected our native amphibian assemblages. A novel deadly fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, was discovered in 2012 and almost wiped out the fire salamander in the Netherlands. This fungus now has been found in a dying fire salamander in Eupen by researchers of Ghent University. The finding of the deadly fungus is highly worrisome, since it may be deleterious to the survival of native salamander populations, thus warranting close monitoring of the situation in Eupen and surrounding salamander populations. Contact: Prof. An Martel Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases Division for Poultry, Exotic Companion, Wildlife and Laboratory Animals 0496/831161 An.Martel (at); Prof. Dr. Frank Pasmans Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases Laboratory of Veterinary Bacteriology and Mycology 09/2647436 Frank.Pasmans (at)