Friday, 26 September 2008
Sir David Attenborough, Patron of AArk, hosted an evening on 'Amphibians in a climate of change' as an awareness-raiser about the plight of amphibians. Jonathan Baillie, Trent Garner and Helen Meredith gave talks on the current and future challenges facing amphibians. Factors including climate change, habitat destruction and disease that could wipe out more than half of Europe’s amphibians by 2050, according to Trent Garner from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Helen Meredith, amphibians co-ordinator for ZSL's Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) programme, warned: "There is no time to waste if we are to prevent further species loss. "We need to reduce carbon emissions, but also address other pressing factors including habitat destruction and spread of diseases."
The Mallorcan midwife toad, Alytes muletensis, is one of the worlds most highly endangered amphibian species. Presumed extinct until 1978, the species was 're-discovered' hiding in the arid Sierra de Tramuntana mountains in the north of the Island; the species has subsequently been the focus of a highly successful captive-breeding and reintroduction program. However, mortalities and subsequent detection of high-prevalence infection by Bd clustered into two adjacent breeding-sites rang alarm-bells. Subsequent investigations, reported by Walker et al in Current Biology showed that introduced Alytes were infected by Bd as early as 1989, and had likely picked up the infection in captivity. The paper reports the first use of sequence-typing to demonstrate that island genotypes of Bd are identical, and unrelated to others found in Europe, strengthening the hypothesis that a single introduction of Bd had occurred. The paper reinforces the need for stringent biosecurity methods to prevent cross-transmission of known and unknown pathogens in captivity. As Kevin Zippel of AArk states "It's a much-needed wake-up call. We must do everything in our power to assess and minimize the risks."
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
The Sixth World Congress of Herpetology is now over, and a brief report on the opening sessions can be found in the latest issue of Froglog (http://www.amphibians.org/newsletter/Froglog88.pdf). The conference was a roaring success, and not just due to the sloths that chose to roost in the trees at the conference venue or the dolphins that swam by the hotel, clearly visible to those conference particpants basking in the infinity pool. Bd was well-represented at one symposium co-organized by Jean-Marc Hero, Erin Muths and your truly, and talks in the symposium (or given just slightly outside the symposium) ranged from treatment to spatial analyses to a test of the Out Of Africa hypothesis to amphibian trade and infectious diseases. Some of the talks from this and two other symposia (Conservation Genetics and Invasive Herps) will form a special issue of the journal Animal Conservation.