Wednesday, 16 September 2009

'Extinction in our times: global amphibian decline'

Jim Collins and Martha Crump have published a 304-page book on amphibian declines. Extinction in our times sets out the key events that led to a realisation that amphibian declines were not only real, but were also occurring globally. Collins & Crump have written an impartial and detailed overview of the known, and unknown factors driving declines, as well as the complex inter-relationships between scientific agendas, industrial interests, government policy and conservation ethics. It's a great read, essential for all those who work on, or are interested in, amphiban declines. A review of the book by Mat Fisher can be read in PLoS Biology.

Monday, 25 May 2009

More Bad News for Mountain Chickens

As previously posted, the Mountain Chicken Frog, Leptodactylus fallax, suffered catastrophic decline due to the emergence of Bd on the island of Dominica. Previous research had shown that the only other island where the species occurs, Montserrat, was Bd-free (Garcia et al. 2007, Oryx 41(3): 398-401). This is no longer the case. Bd emerged this spring on Montserrat, and dead chooks were first detected near the main port, suggesting that Bd came onto Montserrat through interisland trade ( Whatever the route of introduction, Bd has spread rapidly and it is starting to look like we may add another species to the extinct in the wild due to Bd category. Calling males are almost never heard on Dominica, and what few frogs are found there are usually morbund due to advanced chytridiomycosis. The Montserrat frogs already inhabited a narrow range due to the destruction of much of their habitat by the Soufriere Hills volcano.

Durrell, ZSL, the Montserrat government and others mobilized a massive effort to collect as many chooks as they could on Montserrat and these animals have been sent to biosecure facilities ( where they have been treated with Itraconazole and are being monitored regularly for signs of disease. The group at London Zoo appears to have responded well to treatment and males are active and, according to Ian Stephen, relatively unafraid of the activities of the staff. Hopes are that the species will be bred successfully at multiple institutions. Unfortunately, this does not address the presence of Bd on both islands that the species is native to.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

SAVE THE FROGS DAY - April 28th 2009

To raise awareness of the plight of amphibians, the scientific community has declared April 28th, 2009, the 1st Annual 'Save the Frogs Day'.

The aim of this day is to spread the word about the plight of amphibians. The goal of Save the Frogs Day is to make the amphibian extinction crisis common knowledge by 2010: Help make it happen!

All information about Save the Frogs, and April the 28th, can be found here at the SAVE THE FROGS website.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Frogs: The Thin Green Line

You can see 'FROGS: The Thin Green Line' on PBS at 8pm EST. The makers of this film have done a great job of mapping Bd presence across space and time-series based on data produced by the Global Bd-Mapping Project.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

New European Network on Chytridiomycosis Funded

The funding organisation BiodiverERsA has funded a new EU Network to investigate the emergence of Bd in Europe. RACE (Risk Assessment of Chytridiomycosis to European Amphibians) has been awarded 2,258,000 € to implement the first pan-European attempt to mitigate disease. The project aims to (i) identify the natural and anthropogenic drivers of chytridiomycosis in Europe (ii) improve national and pan-European competence in surveillance and diagnosis and to determine the geographic scope of the problem by developing laboratory diagnostic facilities and a state-of-the-art surveillance framework (iii) acquire field-data on the prevalence, intensity and timing of infection/mortalities and (iv) to develop spatial-genetic information and to integrate these into the global genotype dataset to identify the timing, and frequency, of Bd introduction(s) into Europe, as well as assessing the differential virulence of genotypes.

The data and scientific outputs produced by RACE will be used to develop a standardised EU-wide monitoring scheme by disseminating information to national and international stakeholders and by building collaborations in under-surveyed countries; these approaches will be formalised into a European Threat Abatement Plan (ETAP). The kick-off meeting for RACE is in Moulis, the French Pyrenees, in March 2009.

RACE is composed of a core group of laboratories in the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland. However, a core goal of RACE is to capacity build outside of these core-countries and research groups. Interest in RACE, and participation, are warmly welcomed; contact Matthew Fisher ( and Trent Garner ( for further information.